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Nottingham Cottage: Once a Royal Nanny’s Abode, Now a Cosy Royal Starter Home

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Nottingham Cottage in the Kensington Palace is not your ordinary cottage.  Yes, it is the smallest royal residence you can imagine but the Duke and Duchess of Sussex live here and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge once called this home until they moved to the palace's more spacious Apartment 1A. By royal standards, Nottingham Cottage is quaint, a far cry from the usual, grand residence afforded to a royal of Prince Harry’s standing. But with two successive princes moving in, this cottage, once a given to Queen Elizabeth II's nanny, is the ultimate royal starter home. When Marion Crawford, the Queen's Scottish governess, retired in 1948, King George VI gave her Nottingham Cottage in the Kensington Palace complex, as her Grace and favour home for life. “Crawfie,” as Elizabeth and Margaret called her, wrote that the “small cottage” was “designed by Christopher Wren.” She even thought that “it had got to London quite by mistake from some distant country place.” The red brick home “with a tiled roof and roses round the door” has “a little square garden behind a low white paling, where snapdragons, and lavender, and scented white Mrs. Simpkins border carnations grow….”

Crawford writes that Princess Elizabeth shared with her the linens she received as wedding gifts as well as cloth which Crawfie made into curtains. Meanwhile, Princess Margaret helped her arrange things. Queen Mary gifted her with a handful of old Victorian furniture and watercolor paintings of flowers that hung on the walls. The aged Queen Mother even sent along a man to hang the pictures and wrote out the name of a fellow on Fulham Road who was “most helpful” with repairs.

It was these intimate details of her life with the royals, which she shared in her memoirs, that stirred trouble for Crawfie with her former employers. Nevertheless, it offers even today's readers a refreshing take on the humanity of Royal Family and how were Elizabeth and Philip when they started out with their family. 

When Prince William and the former Kate Middleton married in 2011, they started out their family at Nottingham Cottage until they moved to their bigger apartment in 2013. Then, Prince Harry moved in and it is believed that the newly-married couple are set to transfer to the former apartment of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

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