With family photographs, half-eaten chocolate boxes and a TV next to the fireplace, the Queen’s private sitting room at Windsor Castle is full of home comforts that are not dissimilar to our own.
Only, of course, hers are interspersed with priceless artwork, gold-plated ornaments and personal treasures that document her extraordinary life and 70 years on the throne.
Also known as the Oak Room, the sitting room is located in the Queen’s private apartments and is used by Her Majesty, 95, for intimate audiences and photoshoots.
Over the years, presidents and ambassadors have walked through its doors. In lockdown, the Queen chose the Oak Room for her virtual engagements and was often photographed sitting on a straight-backed wooden dining chair as she carried out a video call.
Today the Queen welcomed the incoming Defence Services Secretary Major General Eldon Millar and his predecessor Rear Admiral James Macleod, just hours after her son Prince Andrew settled his sexual assault lawsuit.
A closer look at the images reveal a glimpse of the Queen’s private world, from her favourite photographs to the trinkets that remind her of her beloved horses and corgis…
The Queen’s private sitting room. Pictured: 1. Bendick’s Mint Collection, £5; Fortnum & Mason’s Milk & Dark Chocolate Selection Box, £220; 3. Collage of photos; 4. Unseen snap with her grandchildren; 5. Photograph to remember Prince Philip; 6. Settee with floral upholstery; 7. Heavy gold curtains; 8. Candelabra converted to lamps; 9. Blue vessels with gold gilt; 10. Figurine of horse and trainer; 11. Gold mirror; 12. Bog-standard TV with plastic and glass display unit
Personal treasures. Pictured: 13. Corgi figurine; 14. Rotary dial phone; 15. Pair of silver corgis; 16. Figurine of a woman on horseback; 17. Personal photographs and selection of letter openers; 18. Queen’s Guard statuette; 19. Favourite military figurine; 20. Antique Wedgewood cabbage plate and bowl; 21. Gold horse statuette; 22. Black panther statuette; 23. Photo with Prince Philip and the grandchildren; 24. Hyacinth bulbs
1 & 2. FORTNUM & MASON’S £220 CHOCOLATES… AND A £5 BOX OF BENEDICK’S MINTS
Her Majesty’s sweet tooth! The Queen has three boxes of chocolate on her desk, all within easy reach. Pictured left to right: Fortnum’s Marc de Champagne Truffles, costing up to £40; Bendick’s Mint Collection, available for £5 from Tesco; Fortnum & Mason’s Milk & Dark Chocolate Selection Box, which costs up to £220
It is well known the Queen has a sweet tooth. And it appears Her Majesty likes to keep her favourite chocolates close to hand while she’s hard at work.
For the Queen had no fewer than three boxes of chocolates lying within arm’s reach, ready for her to nibble on if she needed a little pick-me-up before her next engagement.
Among them is Fortnum & Mason’s Milk & Dark Chocolate Selection Box, which costs up to £220 and contains an ‘enchanting mix of creams, caramels, marzipan and fruit & nut clusters’, in flavours from stem ginger to rose.
There is also a box of Fortnum’s Marc de Champagne Truffles, costing up to £40, which is packed with boozy truffles dusted in icing sugar. Fortnum & Mason holds two royal warrants, one from the Queen and one from Prince Charles.
Alongside them is the Bendick’s Mint Collection, available for £5 from Tesco, which includes some of the chocolate brand’s most popular treats – including After Eights.
3. FAMILY COLLAGE OF SPECIAL MOMENTS
Treasured memories: This homemade collage of family photographs sits front and centre on the Queen’s desk
Among the most personal items on display is this touching homemade photographs capturing some of the Queen’s most treasured moments in places like Balmoral.
Although the exact figures are difficult to make out, her beloved husband Prince Philip will be among them, as will other much-loved family members.
There are also shots of some of her favourite corgis. The Queen has owned over 30 in the 70 years since she ascended the throne.
Some of the photos have been carefully cut out in circles or other unusual shapes, suggesting it was a labour of love. It is possible it was even a thoughtful gift presented to Her Majesty.
4. NEW PHOTO OF THE GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN
Proud granny! Sitting pride of place on the desk is a never-before-seen photo of the Queen surrounded by some of her 12 great-grandchildren. Pictured standing, left to right: Lady Louise Windsor, Prince George, Isla Phillips, Princess Charlotte, Savannah Phillips. Seated, left to right: Prince Louis, Mia Tindall, the Queen with Lucas Tindall and Lena Tindall
Sitting pride of place on the desk is a never-before-seen photo of the Queen surrounded by some of her 12 great-grandchildren.
The Queen sits in the middle of a sofa, with a baby, thought to be either Zara and Mike Tindall’s 10-month-old son Lucas, on her knee. The baby is wearing a pair of blue dungarees.
On her left is Zara and Mike Tindall’s three-year-old granddaughter Lena, looking pretty in a pink dress, while the couple’s eldest child Mia, eight, is sitting on her other side.
Tucked at the end of the row is three-year-old Prince Louis, who is wearing dark shorts and long dark socks.
Standing behind the sofa are Lady Louise Windsor, 18, the daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex, Isla and Savannah Phillips, Peter and Autumn Phillips’ daughters, and Prince George, eight, and Princess Charlotte, five.
The photo was taken sometime after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh in April last year.
5. PHOTO TO REMEMBER THE GREATEST GRANDAD
Prince William and Kate Middleton released this touching photo of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen with their seven great-grandchildren ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral. Pictured left to right: Prince George, the Queen with Prince Louis, Savannah Phillips, Princess Charlotte, the Duke of Edinburgh, Isla Phillips holding Lena Tindall, and Mia Tindall
Next to the first photograph is a second family snap that was released by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ahead of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.
The photo was taken by the Duchess of Cambridge at Balmoral Castle in 2018 and shows Prince Philip with his arm around Peter Phillips’ daughter Isla, while the Queen is holding Prince Louis, who was then just a baby.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte both smile cheekily in the picture, while Peter Phillips’ daughter Savannah holds a baby Lena Tindall in her arms.
Standing next to them with a sweet smile on her face is Mia Tindall, Zara and Mike’s eldest child.
6. SETTEE WITH FLORAL UPHOLSTERY
Home comforts: The settee has been upholstered in a patterned fabric which is off-set with crimson cushions
Speaking to Femail, interior designer Benji Lewis explained how soft furnishings like the settee and cushions creates a relaxed, comfortable feeling in the room.
Regal touch: Pulled back on either side of the large windows are gold curtains in a heavy fabric
‘The sofa is a beauty – curiously the only upholstered piece in a patterned fabric – and I should think superbly comfortable, yet it’s quite contained with its tallish arms and it’s made less clumpy looking due to its fixed back, rather than loose backed cushions,’ he explained.
‘The dressy nature of the room is continued on the sofa upholstery which instead of having exposed feet, has been given a box pleat skirt, a nice counterfoil to the draped curtains.
‘My feeling is that the patterned upholstery forms part of a bigger picture to which we’re not being made aware.
‘In much the same way as the curtains have been given added spectacle with the fringing, the scatter cushions have been similarly finished with differing textures (velvet on some and pique cotton on others I think) and edged in either a cord or a caterpillar fringe, demonstrating an attention to detail and enjoyment of that little bit extra.’
7. HEAVY GOLD CURTAINS
Pulled back on either side of the large windows are gold curtains in a heavy fabric.
Benji said: ‘The curtains are absolutely traditional and super grand, made even more splendid with their fringed embellishment, and yet it’s a soft window dressing.
‘Instead of a simple curtain pole or squared box pelmet it’s been dressed with something way more gentle, no less grand but gentle with the pleasing scooped shape in the draped pelmet being echoed in the soft curves of the oval mirror.’
8 & 9. CANDELABRA AND PAIR OF GOLD-GILT VESSELS
Let there be light! On the mantelpiece behind the Queen is a pair of what appears to be matching candle holders repurposed as decorative lamps. Adding a splash of colour to the room are a pair of blue vessels with gold gilt
On the mantelpiece behind the Queen is a pair of what appears to be matching candle holders repurposed as decorative lamps.
The candle holders take the shape of two humans with their arms outstretched to hold what would have been the candles. Now, however, the arms reach out to hold two bulbs. The ornate design is topped with two simple cream lampshades.
Adding a splash of colour to the room are a pair of blue vessels with gold gilt.
Little is known about the eye-catching pieces but they offer an attractive framing for the ornate gold mantle clock in the centre of the display.
Like the candelabra, the blue decorative vessels have been on the mantelpiece in the Oak Room for several years.
10. HORSE AND TRAINER STATUE AND STATUE OF PRINCESS ELIZABETH
Loves of her life: One of the great loves of the Queen’s life is her horses, which she commemorates with two statuettes on her mantel. The first (left), seen on the left-hand side of the image, shows a groom using a rein to bring a horse under control as it rears up on its hind legs. The second depicts the then Princess Elizabeth on horseback, circa. 1937 (right)
Ornate: A gold wall mirror hangs above the fireplace
One of the great loves of the Queen’s life is her horses, which she commemorates with two statuettes on her mantel.
The first, seen on the left-hand side of the image, shows a groom using a rein to bring a horse under control as it rears up on its hind legs.
The second, which is hidden in this photograph, has a more personal meaning. For it depicts the then Princess Elizabeth on horseback, circa. 1937.
It is on display on the other side of the mantelpiece and is a tribute to the Queen’s lifelong passion for riding.
11. ORNATE WALL MIRROR
Displayed above the fireplace, next to one of the windows looking out to the castle courtyard, is an ornate gold mirror.
Like many pieces in the Oak Room, it has been in situ for at least 10 years. Interestingly, there is an identical mirror that hangs above the fireplace on the opposite side of the room.
During Queen Victoria’s reign, when the room was known as the Gothic Breakfast Room, the space was occupied by a much larger oval mirror.
12. BOG-STANDARD TV SET
Ready for a royal night in! Famously frugal, the Queen has used the same TV set for at least the last six years – possibly longer. Although it is not possible to spot its make, it appears to be a pretty bog-standard design with a satellite television box and, possibly, video recorder in a glass and plastic base underneath
Famously frugal, the Queen has used the same TV set for at least the last six years – possibly longer.
Although it is not possible to spot its make, it appears to be a pretty bog-standard design with a satellite television box and, possibly, video recorder in a glass and plastic base underneath.
Previous photos of the Oak Room have revealed a clunky Sky remote control, next to a rather older version used to operate her actual television.
She also watches DVD boxsets and has a soft spot for comedies like Benny Hill, Dad’s Army and Fry and Laurie as Jeeves & Wooster. Shows like like Keeping Up Appearances and Downton Abbey are also favourites and she loved Last Of The Summer Wine.
13. 14. & 15. CORGI AND HORSE FIGURINES
A monarch’s best friend! The Queen commemorates her corgis with three figures on the left-hand side of her desk (as seen left in a previous photograph). The image on the right shows the corgis in context, as well as the horse at the back of the desk
The Queen’s love of her corgis is well-documented and this photo shows how she likes to be reminded of them while working at her writing desk.
On the left-hand side of the desk there are three corgis: one larger one, thought to be china, and two smaller ones, thought to be silver, that are stood on a slate block.
There is a silver plaque attached to the base of the block, suggesting it might have been given to the Queen as a gift.
Behind the corgis, tucked away on the shelf at the back of the writing desk, is a figurine of a woman mounted on horseback.
The piece, which appears to be ceramic, depicts the woman in a flowing white dress that drapes over her steed’s flank.
16. ROTARY DIAL PHONE
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! After moving to Windsor Castle to isolate in March 2020, the Queen was pictured conducting her weekly meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson using an old-fashioned rotary dial phone, seen above
After moving to Windsor Castle to isolate in March 2020, the Queen was pictured conducting her weekly meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson using an old-fashioned rotary dial phone.
Royal expert Phil Dampier told FEMAIL that Her Majesty has likely used the same telephone for years – and has an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality.
‘The Queen doesn’t believe in change for change’s sake and if she is comfortable with something she keeps using it for years,’ he said.
Dickie Arbiter, the Queen’s former press spokesman, added that Her Majesty is ‘very frugal’ and sees no point in changing something if it works.
‘It fits the ambiance if you’re living in a medieval castle, why put something modern in? The white phone fits,’ he told FEMAIL. ‘It’s a rather old fashioned Bakelite telephone, and as far as she’s concerned, it works, why change it?’
17. PERSONAL PHOTOS AND LETTER OPENERS
Personal touches: On the left of the writing desk is a rather old fashioned red leather-bound calendar, displaying the month (just pictured). Next to it are several antique glass inkwells, a brass dish and a number of elaborate letter openers (right). There are also two photos: one of the Queen Mother (in the black frame, top left) and one possibly showing Philip (right)
On the left of the writing desk is a rather old fashioned red leather-bound calendar, displaying the month. Next to it are several antique glass inkwells, a brass dish and a number of elaborate letter openers.
As always, a photograph of the Queen’s late mother – Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – has pride of place, as it does in most of her private apartments.
There is also a photo of a solo figure. Although they are difficult to make out, it could quite possibly be the Duke of Edinburgh.
18. & 19. QUEEN’S GUARD STATUETTE AND MILITARY FIGURINE
Keeping watch: On the top right of the desk there stands a statuette of a member of the Queen’s Guard, complete with his dress uniform of a red tunic and bearskin hat. Standing next to the Queen’s Guard statuette is a smaller uniformed soldier
On the top right of the desk there stands a statuette of a member of the Queen’s Guard, complete with his dress uniform of a red tunic and bearskin hat.
The story behind the figurine is not known, however it is thought to be a favourite of the monarch as it has been stood in the same spot on her desk – keeping watch as she works – for at least five years.
Standing next to the Queen’s Guard statuette is a smaller uniformed soldier.
This one is placed on what appears to be a base with a plaque, as if it was presented to the Queen as a token as award.
Again, little is known about the specifics of the figurine but it too has been kept in place for the last five years.
20. ANTIQUE WEDGEWOOD CABBAGELEAF PLATE AND BOWL
Quirky: This is believed to be a rare Wedgwood bowl and plate, or cup and saucer, designed in the shape of a cabbage leaf with a scalloped edge. Similar designs in a darker green shade can be found online but what sets this apart is its rare green and white colouring
The Queen and the Royal Family are known for exchanging quirky presents at Christmas – and this unusual set would certainly fit the bill.
It is believed to be a rare Wedgwood bowl and plate, or cup and saucer, designed in the shape of a cabbage leaf with a scalloped edge.
Similar designs in a darker green shade can be found online but what sets this apart is its rare green and white colouring. This set has previously been used to display fake fruit.
21. & 22. PANTHER AND GOLD HORSE STATUE
Animal friends! The Queen has a panther and a gold horse statuette on her desk, alongside the family photographs
Among the more unusual items on display are the black panther and the gold horse statuettes on the Queen’s desk.
The gold horse was previously placed on a white plinth in the room but appears to have been moved to the desk.
The origin of the black panther is not known, but it is possible it was a gift presented to Her Majesty.
23. A TOUCHING FAMILY PORTRAIT
The Queen has revealed a previously unseen family photo showing her cuddling on the sofa with Prince Philip and five of her great-grandchildren. In the background of shots is an adorable framed image showing Her Majesty (second left) and the late Duke of Edinburgh (second right) with Prince George (centre back) , Princess Charlotte (second right on Queen’s lap) Peter Phillips children Isla (far right) and Savannah (far left) and Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia (front centre in front of George)
On the other side of the desk is a framed photograph of Her Majesty and the late Duke of Edinburgh with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Peter Phillips children Isla and Savannah, and Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia.
It’s likely the photo was taken in late 2015 as Princess Charlotte, now six, is a baby in the photo and sitting on the Queen’s lap.
The sofa and decorations suggest the photo was taken in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room – an intimate state room which is regularly used for audiences and small gatherings.
Little George, who would have been about three at the time, poses at the back of the sofa while his second cousin Mia Tindall, who would have been a few months short of turning two, perches in front of him.
Mia’s first cousins – Savannah and Isla Phillips sit at either end of the sofa while Philip – whose face is covered by the Queen’s handbag – snuggles between Savannah and Isla.
The photograph does not include Prince Louis, Lea and Lucas Tindall, Archie and Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, August Brooksbank and Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi who have all been born in the last four years.
24. DARK BLUE HYACINTHS
Spring is almost here and the Queen is already getting in the mood with some fresh flowers.
Believed to be a variety of dark blue hyacinths, the eye-catching flowers can grow indoors in a pot, like the beautiful floral one the Queen has on her desk.
The flowers are beautifully fragrant and will come back year after year, making them a sustainable choice.
The Queen also has other fresh flowers on display, including stunning white blooms on her writing desk. These will be replaced on a regular basis by Royal Household staff.
26. PORTRAIT OF A PRINCESS
Looking down over the room is this beautiful portrait of the young Queen, thought to have been commissioned to mark her being made a member of the Order of the Garter
Looking down over the room is this beautiful portrait of the young Queen, dressed in the elaborate vestments and accoutrements of the Order of the Garter.
The Order of the Garter is a a 700-year-old order of knighthood founded by Edward III in 1348, and recognises contributions of great public service from those honoured.
All appointments are gifts of the Queen, meaning she does not need to seek Prime Ministerial advice.
They are comparable to the Order of the Thistle, the Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order which are also in the Queen’s gift.