Cliveden a royal favourite

Painting of King Edward VII
King Edward VII National Trust / Christopher Warleigh-Lack

Cliveden has been visited by virtually every British monarch since Lord Orkney hosted George I here. Throughout the years, Cliveden’s owners have been councillors to the crown and friends of the royal family and a Prince has even called Cliveden home.

The Duke of Buckingham fought for Charles I during the Civil War and later became Charles II’s favoured advisor. Lord Orkney considered William of Orange a friend and the King arranged his advantageous marriage. Orkney was favoured by successive monarchs; Queen Anne presented him with an urn (on display in the garden) and George I was the Orkney’s dinner guest at Cliveden on at least five occasions. 

Home of a Prince

Following Lord Orkney’s death, the estate was let to Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1737 for £600 a year. The Prince brought his young family to Cliveden to escape his deteriorating relationship with his parents.

At Cliveden Prince Frederick organised theatrical and musical performances in the amphitheatre, most famously hosting the first performance of ‘Rule Britannia’ in 1740. A cricket injury sustained whilst playing on the Parterre proved fatal in 1751 and his estranged father, George II, outlived him.

The Prince of Wales and his sisters
A painting showing the Prince of Wales and his sisters making music
National Trust Images / John Hammond

Queen Victoria’s confidant

Queen Victoria would travel up the River Thames from Windsor spend time with her friend, Harriet Duchess of Sutherland. On her accession in 1837, the Queen appointed Harriet Mistress of the Robes and the pair became good friends. Victoria visited Cliveden on at least eight occasions and was lent also the house for a ten day stay in the summer of 1866.

Queen Victoria
A painting of Queen Victoria as a young woman
National Trust / Christopher Warleigh-Lack

Modern day monarchs

In the early twentieth century, King Edward VII was eager to meet the newly married Nancy Astor. On one occasion during a visit to Cliveden, Edward VII asked to play bridge which Nancy declined, famously saying ‘I am afraid I can’t tell a King from a Knave’ – much to the King’s amusement.

As a child, Elizabeth II accompanied her parents George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) on a visit in 1938 and visited the Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Cliveden during the Second World War.  As Queen, she was one of 450 guests who attended a lavish ball hosted by Bill Astor in 1957.