Prince Charles confessed his ‘blood ran cold’ amid devastation at Windsor Castle


PRINCE CHARLES confessed his “blood ran cold” when he saw the devastation of the fire at Windsor Castle.

The royal residence, where the Queen and Prince Philip are spending lockdown, is the oldest and largest working castle in Europe. Sadly, it was the scene of a huge fire 28 years ago which saw 115 rooms destroyed, including nine state rooms. For the Prince of Wales it was particularly heartbreaking to see somewhere he spent much of his childhood going up in flames.

Speaking to the documentary ‘Windsor Castle Restored’, he said: “I was looking on the television and seeing all these terrifying flames and smoke coming out of the castle.

“I felt the first thing I needed to do was jump in a car and come up here.”

Charles raced up from Norfolk to join his family at the scene.

He said: “One of the worst things, I think, was coming up the motorway coming and seeing this glow and this smoke pouring into the sky.

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Prince Charles said his blood ran cold when he saw the devastation (Image: GETTY)

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Windsor Castle on fire in 1993 (Image: GETTY)

“That I think was one of the worst images of all.”

The prince added: “It was somewhere where I had been brought up for so much of my childhood.

“So when I got here it looked even more like a scene of devastation than I would have believed possible.

“It made the blood run cold.”

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Smoke pouring out of Windsor Castle (Image: GETTY)

The nightmare began on November 20, 1992, when a faulty spotlight ignored a curtain in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel.

Within minutes, the blaze was unstoppable and had spread to St George’s Hall next door.

It was first spotted around 11:30am and the fire brigade was called.

The fire ravaged the great building for 15 hours, during which more than 200 firefighters from seven counties battled the flames with 36 pumps and 1.5 million gallons of water.

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St George’s Hall after the Windsor Castle fire (Image: GETTY)

Luckily most of the artwork was saved by groups of people removing them from the path of the fire, but large parts of the actual structure of the building were severely damaged from fire, smoke and water damage.

The ceiling in St George’s Hall collapsed completely and the inside was burnt to rubble, which was particularly heartbreaking for the Prince of Wales.

Charles said: “I have a particular passion for St George’s Hall because, as a child, we used to muck around a lot in there and play badminton in there, believe it or not.

“Under the carpet, there’s a badminton court marked out and so I spent a lot of time there.”

Luckily, the fire break at the end of St George’s Hall remained unbreached and so the Royal Library was saved.

The fire was finally extinguished at 2:30am on November 21.

After the fire was out, there came the gargantuan task of restoring the castle to its former glory.

Prince Philip took on the role of chair of the Restoration Committee, which involved the Department of National Heritage, English Heritage, The Royal Institution of British Architects and the Fine Arms Commission.

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St George’s Hall after its restoration in 1997 (Image: GETTY)

One of the biggest questions was whether the castle should be restored to its exact appearance on the day of the fire or whether a new approach should be taken in certain areas.

One change was a Lantern Lobby created in the space where the chapel had previously been and where the fire started.

This created a formal passageway between the private and state apartments.

St George’s Hall was restored to a design close to the room’s original 14th-century appearance, but with a 20th-century reinterpretation.

It took five years to be restored at a cost of £36.5million.

To help pay for this, Buckingham Palace opened its doors to tours and adjustments were made to the ticket charges at Windsor Castle.

However, taxpayers were still upset about fitting the huge restoration bill and, as a result, the Queen started voluntarily paying income tax and capital gains tax from then on.

The restoration project was officially complete on the Queen and Prince Philip’s 50th anniversary.


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