Queen given Framlingham Castle for 90th birthday
By Jane Seymour, Royal Correspondent
Framlingham Castle in Suffolk is being given to the Queen by the nation as a new country weekend retreat to mark her 90th birthday.
Her Majesty is said to be delighted with her new second home because Windsor Castle is far too big and expensive to upkeep.
Windsor will now be used more by Prince Charles and his sons, William and Harry, allowing the Queen to enjoy a lower profile in the Suffolk countryside.
In a curious twist, one of her new neighbours will be pop star Ed Sheeran, whose family live close to the quaint Suffolk town.
Framlingham Castle was chosen because of its highly-fortified walls. Originally a Norman castle, it was built in 1148 but destroyed by Henry II 30 years later. It was rebuilt by Roger Bigod, the Earl of Norfolk, but locals do not hold his title against him.
The living accommodation within the castle walls will be modified in preparation for the Queen’s arrival, and locals will have to get used to seeing her guards, in their famous red tunics and bearskin hats, parading outside.
Locals were excited about the news. Maurice Piper, who owns a nearby potato farm, said: “This is a very proud day for Framlingham. We are all looking forward to Her Majesty enjoying weekends in the area, although some might be a little disappointed that the castle will now be closed to the public when she is home.”
A royal insider told the Suffolk Gazette: “The Queen enjoys her weekends away, especially now she is getting a little older. She intends to split her time away from London between Framlingham and Sandringham in Norfolk, which will allow Prince Charles and the rest of the family to spend more time at Windsor.”
The cost of modifications at Framlingham is being put at £17 million, and will be paid for by adding a small tax on the purchase of second homes by Londoners snapping up Suffolk properties at the expense of cash-strapped locals.