Clarence House – where the King and Queen Consort will continue to live while renovations on Buckingham Palace are carried out

Since 2003, King Charles III has occupied Clarence House as his official London residence. H&G looks at the building’s remarkable history

Clarence House
(Image credit: MICHAEL DUNLEA / Alamy Stock Photo)

Clarence House takes its name from its first occupant: William, Duke of Clarence, the third son of George III, who ruled as William IV from 1830 to 1837. He entered the Royal Navy at the age of 13 in 1778 and, over a career of 30 years – disadvantaged neither by birth nor connection – rose from the rank of Midshipman to Admiral of the Fleet in 1811. The latter appointment coincided with a turning point in his career, the final madness of his father in 1810.

Until this moment, he had seemed an unlikely heir to the throne and lived accordingly. On shore, his activities had been the object of scandal, and, for upwards of 20 years, he cohabited with the comic actress Dorothy Bland, known as Mrs. Jordan, who bore him 10 children.

These days, before HM King Charles III's accession to the throne after the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022 – Clarence House was the former Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s official London royal residence – a beautiful townhouse in Westminster, central London, amongst one of the world's best homes. However, while they greatly admired this historic home, the royal pair’s hearts were firmly in the countryside at their main family home – Highgrove House in Gloucestershire – and further residences in rural Wales and Scotland.

Who lives in Clarence House?

While Queen Elizabeth II was alive, the then Prince and Duchess lived in Clarence House when in London, which stands beside St James’s Palace in Westminster and was the home of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh following their marriage in 1947. 

The Queen Mother lived there from 1953 until her death in 2002. Charles then inherited the central London residence and, while it has undergone renovations, he has kept many of the rooms and the furniture just as they were when his grandmother lived there

It was recently reported that King Charles III and his Queen Consort will continue to live at Clarence House, which has been their London home for almost 20 years, while renovation works at the palace are completed. 

Did Queen Elizabeth II live in Clarence House?

It was the London home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother from 1953 until 2002 and was also the home of The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and The Duke of Edinburgh following their marriage in 1947.

While in residence, King Charles III carried out extensive renovation work before he moved into Clarence House on 4 August 2003.

Clarence House also provides office accommodation for The Prince of Wales's Household, who support the reining monarch in their official engagements and liaise with over 350 organizations with whose work they are involved, according to Royal UK (opens in new tab).

Who owns Clarence House?

Clarence House, one of the last remaining aristocratic townhouses in London, is an official residence owned by The Crown Estate.

According to The Crown Estate (opens in new tab) website: 'The Crown Estate belongs to the reigning monarch 'in right of The Crown', that is, it is owned by the monarch for the duration of their reign, by virtue of their accession to the throne.' Clarence House is not a private property of the monarch, which means it cannot be sold by the monarch, nor do revenues from it belong to the reigning monarch.

The Government also does not own The Crown Estate. It is managed by an independent organization – established by statute – headed by The Crown Estate Commissioners, and the surplus revenue from the estate is paid each year to the Treasury for the benefit of the nation's wealth and finances.

Clarence House garden The Mall Westminster London Uk Residence of Prince Charles the and Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall.

(Image credit: Prixpics / Alamy Stock Photo)

Is Clarence House open to the public?

Part of Clarence House (opens in new tab) is open to the public during the month of August, and visitors can be shown around five rooms on the ground floor. The décor is grand yet comforting, with antique rugs and impressive chandeliers. There are also personal photographs on display, including wedding photos and pictures of King Charles’ sons Princes William and Harry when they were children. The former price also displays some of his own watercolor paintings.

While in residence, Charles would often host official visitors at Clarence House, most commonly in the formal living room, which has large, grand lamps, historic family paintings, and a light-blue-and-gold theme. The morning room boasts a large open fire, historic artwork, and antique furniture.

A keen gardener and environmentalist, the grounds have been carefully thought out and tended to, and King Charles III personally designed a formal area of the grounds in 2004 in honor of The Queen Mother. The planting was laid out by members of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. Clarence House also provides offices for the Prince of Wales's household and is used by Charles and Camilla for receptions, official entertaining, and to host official visitors to the UK.

Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.