What Is Frogmore House? Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Evening Wedding Reception Venue Has A Storied Past
There’s a new phrase that’s being tossed around in relation to the upcoming Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Frogmore House. But what is Frogmore House? And what exactly does it have to do with the whole to-do? According to recent reports, the curiously-named location will play host to one of Harry and Meghan’s receptions — and, yes, you heard that right: Receptions. Plural. Guess that’s what happens when you marry into royalty.
As you probably already know, Harry and Meghan will tie the knot on May 19 at St. George’s Chapel, which is located on the grounds of Windsor Castle (which, by the way, is super haunted). After the ceremony, they’ll have a lunch reception hosted by the Queen in St. George’s Hall, a stateroom in Windsor Castle frequently used for State Banquets. But that isn’t the only reception the royal couple will be having; later on that night, they’ll head to Frogmore House for a “smaller, more intimate gathering,” according to Vogue.
Having two receptions — one larger one and one smaller one — isn’t unusual for royal weddings; Prince William and Kate Middleton did the same thing when they got married in 2011, albeit in a different location: Both their lunchtime reception and their smaller, evening event were held at Buckingham Palace. Of course, “large” and “small are kind of relative terms; William and Kate’s lunch reception hosted 650 guests, while their evening one hosted 300, according to the Telegraph. Word on the street is that Harry and Meghan’s evening reception will be limited to around 200 guests, but that’s still pretty big in my book.
In any event, Frogmore House is admittedly a much lesser-known royal residence — but although it’s not often in the limelight, it’s no less interesting than any of the big names like Windsor or Balmoral. Here’s everything you need to know about the place:
1. Frogmore House Has A Long History
Not as long as some royal residences, but certainly longer than others. According to the Royal Household, the land on which Frogmore House stands was first purchased by Henry VIII: He bought the estates of Great and Little Frogmore during the 16th century, letting them out to tenants during his reign. It wasn’t until after the English Civil War that Frogmore House was actually built. It’s believed that Charles II’s architect, Hugh May, originally built Frogmore House for his own nephew, Thomas May; construction began around 1680, with the building finally being completed around 1684.
King George III eventually bought the place outright for Queen Charlotte (pictured here) in 1792, and it’s remained in the Royal Family ever since. Charlotte and her unmarried daughters (of which there were many — she and George had 15 kids total, 13 of which lived to see adulthood) used it as a sort of refuge from court life. Other occupants over the centuries have included Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent; Victoria’s third daughter, Princess Helena, and her husband; and King George V and Queen Mary. It isn’t really used as a residence anymore, but the Royal Family will periodically use it for entertaining.
2. It’s Open To The Public Only Rarely
And by “rarely,” I mean “almost never”: According to the Royal Collection Trust, Frogmore House is open to visitors for just three days in the spring each year. All proceeds from these days are donated to charities; as such, the annual three-day open period is referred as Charity Open Days. In 2018, Frogmore House’s Charity open Days are June 5, 6, and 7, with the proceeds from each day going to the National Gardens Scheme, the SSAFA, and the Prisoner’s Education Trust. Tickets aren’t available to book yet, though, so keep an eye on Frogmore House’s website if you’re thinking about visiting this year.
However, groups of 15 people or more can pre-book special tours during the month of August. A general visit is £10.30 per person, while a private guided tour is £30.
3. The Name “Frogmore House” Does Actually Have Something To Do With Frogs
I will be perfectly honest: I did a bit of a double-take at the name “Frogmore House,” because it is an objectively hilarious place name. (Also, it sounds kind of like something out of The Wind In The Willows, or maybe an unsavory pub located in Hogsmede, both of which I find hilarious.) It doesn’t get any less funny when you look into where the name actually came from, either: According to A Dictionary Of British Place-Names, it’s derived from the Old English words “frogga” and “mere,” which mean “frog” and “body of water” respectively; ergo, “Froggamere” — which, of course, became “Frogmore” over time — means roughly, “pool frequented by frogs.”
Great place for formal occasions, no?
4. Harry & Meghan Aren’t The First Royals To Use The Location As A Wedding-Related Venue
In fact, there’s a lot about Harry and Meghan’s wedding that’s been done before: In 2008, Peter Phillips — the oldest child of Anne, Princess Royal, and therefore Queen Elizabeth II’s oldest grandchild — married Autumn Phillips (née Kelly) in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle; they went on to have a “reception and dance” at Frogmore House after the ceremony concluded, according to the BBC. The newlyweds traveled between the two locations via horse-drawn carriage. Per Google Maps, it’s about an 11-minute car ride; no word on how long it might take in a carriage, though.
5. The Queen Mother & George VI Honeymooned At Frogmore House
Or at least, they spent part of their honeymoon there. They got married on April 26, 1923 and split their honeymoon between a few locations: Polesden Lacey in Surrey, Glamis Castle in Scotland (where the Queen Mother caught whooping cough, which she hilariously described in a letter as “not a very romantic disease"), and Frogmore House.
Of course, at the time, they weren’t the George VI and the Queen Mother; they were Albert, known as Bertie, and Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of York. They unexpectedly ascended to the throne after Albert’s brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 order to marry Wallis Simpson.
6. Frogmore House Was Also The Backdrop For Meghan & Harry’s Engagement Photos
Does the garden of Frogmore House look familiar to you? If so, that’s probably because you’ve seen it before: Meghan and Harry’s engagement photos, which were released to the public in December of 2017, were shot there. According to the Royal Collection Trust, Queen Charlotte was largely responsible for Frogmore’s garden and lake; she was a keen botanist and had a strong hand in the garden’s design.
7. Lots Of Royals Are Buried Nearby
The Royal Mausoleum, the Frogmore Mausoleum/Duchess of Kent Mausoleum, and Royal Burial Ground are all on the grounds of the Frogmore Estate. Starting in 1928, most members of the Royal Family have been buried in the Royal Burial Ground here; occupants (if that’s the right word) include three of Queen Victorian’s children (Princess Helena, Prince Arthur, and Princess Louise) and Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. However, the Royal Mausoleum is not currently available to view even during Open Charity Days; dampness issues have made the building unsafe, so it’s been closed since 2007, according to the Evening Standard.
Frogmore House certainly looks like a beautiful place to close out the day’s festivities on May 19. But of course, the one thing we all want to know is this: Will we get pictures of the event? Here’s hoping, because as gorgeous as the place is on its own, I’m sure that when it’s gussied up for a wedding, it’s really something to see. Guess we’ll just have to wait to find out!