Devastating 15 hours left Queen upset and depressed – and cost £36.5million – Mirror Online

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In November 1992, the royal family were given the horrifying news that a massive fire was ripping through Windsor Castle.

The historical building has always been one of their favourite homes, and they come together there every year to celebrate Easter Sunday.

It was where the Queen spent a lot of time when she was growing up and where she spent the war years, and she opted to live there during the Covid lockdown.

But parts of the castle were completely destroyed in the early 90s, leaving the family “devastated”.

Despite firefighters’ best efforts, 115 rooms, including nine State Rooms, were completely destroyed leaving the Queen devastated.

The Windsor Castle fire could be seen for miles
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Prince Andrew was the only royal staying there at the time but was unhurt, and all staff also made it out safely.

The massive blaze was caused by a faulty spotlight in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel, which ignited a curtain next to the alter.

Before long the fire, which was first spotted at about 11.30am on November 20, spread to St George’s Hall next door.

The Queen and Prince Edward visiting the site after the fire to inspect the damage
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

A team of 225 firefighters from seven counties were called to the scene to battle the blaze, and the height of their attempt there were 36 pumps, discharging 1.5million gallons of water.

It took them 15 hours to put the fire out.

The family were completely heartbroken by the loss, especially the Queen who is very fond of the building.

Huge sections of Windsor Castle were completely destroyed by the fire
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking about the fire on ITV’s documentary Inside the Crown: Secrets of the Royals, royal expert Piers Brendon claimed the Monarch was “devastated” by what had happened.

He said “you could see it in her face,” adding “you don’t often see that depressed look on her features.”

Ex-royal correspondent Wesley Kerr added: “What a terrible blow that must have been for the Queen. She must have thought I am a custodian of this place and I failed in my duties.

St. George’s Hall was was gutted by the blaze
(Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

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“In the evening, I drove along the M4 on my way back to London and the flames seemed to be about 200 feet high.

“You could see it from a couple hundred miles away.”

Once the fire crews had moved out and the royals had come to terms with what had happened, the hard work began as they looked to restore the castle.

Early cost estimations were between£40m and £60m, which caused outrage and there was a huge debate about who should pick up the bill.

The chief fire officer escorted the Queen around the grounds of Windsor Castle
(Image: Getty Images)

There was suggestion the taxpayer should pay, but the issue sparked a huge conversation about the royals’ finances, including whether the Queen should pay tax, from which she had always been exempt.

By February 1993, a deal had finally been agreed.

The Queen agreed to start paying tax and to cut down the number of royals whose lifestyles were funded by the government. This meant that the taxpayer paid for just her, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother,

Firefighters worked around the clock to save the castle, and staff carried out pieces of royal art
(Image: Sygma via Getty Images)

From that point on, she has funded the rest of the family.

The Queen also agreed to pay 70 per cent of the costs of the restoration. She got the money for this by opening Buckingham Palace to the public to create new revenue.

However, the final costs were much lower than first feared – with the bill coming in at about £36.5m.

Prince Philip became chair of a Restoration Committee, which worked out a plan of what to do.

While St George’s Hall was restored to its original design, they opted to create the Lantern Lobby where the private chapel had previously been.

They used all traditional materials and tools for the enormous project.

The work was finally finished on November 20, 1970 – exactly five years after the blaze.

And the Queen and Prince Philip had another reason to celebrate that day, as it was also their 50th wedding anniversary.

 

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