The dark side of Adelaide Cottage, the estate where Prince William and Kate Middleton will move in

The Cambridges will move into the property east of Windsor Castle over the summer, it has been revealed The Sun, Monday, June 13. The house is still filled with memories of the sulphurous romance it housed in the late 1940s.

They are about to put their suitcases down at Adelaide Cottage. During the summer, Prince William and Kate Middleton will move in with their three children in this mansion east of Windsor Castlerevealed the Sun, Monday, June 13. All with a view to getting closer to the queen and, he whispers, to keep her away from Prince Andrew, suspected of being involved in the Jeffrey Epstein affair. A residence of “modest elegance”, Adelaide Cottage was once the scene of romances as tender as they were sulphurous. Among them, that of Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Elizabeth II.

A ‘wonderful crush’

In February 1944, this former Royal Air Force fighter pilot was appointed equerry to King George VI. He therefore takes up residence in the accommodation, equipped with four bedrooms, alongside his wife of three years, Rosemary, pregnant with a little boy, and their son Giles. George VI will later become the godfather of their youngest son, Hugo.

Princess Margaret was 13 when she first saw Peter Townsend. She has a “tremendous crush” on him, as she would reveal years later. The Princess regularly spends her Sundays at Adelaide Cottage, where she likes to have fun with Giles and Hugo. The future Elizabeth II, who loves her exchanges with Rosemary, willingly accompanies her sister to the Townsends. The squire takes the opportunity, meanwhile, to doze in a deckchair.

Three months in South Africa

No one could have predicted that the relationship between Margaret and the former pilot would, over time, become a passionate affair. In 1947, Peter Townsend was invited to accompany the princesses, the king and the queen for a three-month official trip to South Africa. Her role is, in particular, to chaperone Princess Margaret. The 32-year-old man is thus on the run in the plains of the rainbow nation, in the company of the 17-year-old girl. “We rode together every morning, in this marvelous country, under this magnificent weather, she recalled later. That’s when I really fell in love with him.”

For now, the British are unaware of the beginnings of this confidential idyll. A sequence filmed in 1953, during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, will nevertheless eventually sow doubt. Astute spectators then spot Princess Margaret, tenderly removing a stuffed animal from the squire’s buttonhole. If the Townsends divorced the previous year, some rumors claim that the affair between Princess Margaret and the employee began long before this separation. Understand: in 1947, the very year of the trip to South Africa.

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A strange phone call

While there is no evidence that this was indeed the case, British columnist Craig Brown, author of Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, came back in 2017 on an intriguing episode, told by one of his readers. The latter claimed to have found documents suggesting the existence of an extramarital affair. It was indeed a request made in October 1947, in connection with the launch of the ship Edinburgh Castle. The Princess and Peter Townsend, who were staying at the Belfast Governor’s official residence, reportedly asked to be moved into adjoining rooms.

In 2002, author Sarah Bradford delivered an evocative story in her biography of the queen. A member of the court was reminiscing about a birthday party for one of the Townsend children. “The phone rang and the caller said, ‘Does Peter want to go horse riding with Princess Margaret?’ He wasn’t working. He went there anyway.” The former pilot will leave Adelaide Cottage in 1952, after his divorce from Rosemary.

Queen Victoria’s crush

The romance of Peter Townsend and Princess Margaret, however, is doomed. At the time, the Royal Marriages Act stipulated that no member of the royal family was allowed to marry a divorced person, if their ex-partner was still alive. On October 31, 1955, Princess Margaret announced that she would never seal her union with Peter Townsend.

Adelaide Cottage had, however, lighter stories. Built in 1831 at the request of King William IV, for his wife Adelaide, the property, located in the county of Berkshire, first served as a secondary residence for the couple. After the death of the sovereign in 1837, this 2,500 m² house, designed by the English architect Jeffry Wyatville, fell into disgrace for a time. Until conquering Queen Victoria, always inclined to go there at breakfast or tea time.

Since Peter Townsend, the house has hosted many friends and relatives of Elizabeth II free of charge. Among them, a certain Simon, son of Margaret Rhodes, first cousin of the monarch. Renovated in 2015, Adelaide Cottage will now serve as a cocoon for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, anxious to settle in “a modest home to start their new life in Windsor”.