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Why St George's Hall is a very special place for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

House Beautiful (UK) logo House Beautiful (UK) 16/05/2019 Olivia Heath
a person standing in front of a building: St George's Hall at Windsor Castle is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, chose to pose for their first family portrait with their newborn baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The grand hall is also where they held their wedding reception almost one year ago. © WPA Pool - Getty Images St George's Hall at Windsor Castle is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, chose to pose for their first family portrait with their newborn baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. The grand hall is also where they held their wedding reception almost one year ago.

St George's Hall at Windsor Castle is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, chose to pose for their first family portrait with their newborn baby son Archie.

The new parents introduced their bundle of joy to the world on Wednesday (8th May) in the grand hall, posing for photos as a family of three, later confirming his name as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

St George's Hall is used for State visits, receptions and is also on the public visitor route throughout the year – but it’s a very special place for the royal couple, as it’s where Harry and Meghan held their first wedding reception on 19th May 2019, which was hosted by the Queen, before they enjoyed a second one later that evening at Frogmore House. How fitting that they've returned to the hall almost a year on with the newest member of their family.

The hall is also where Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank held their wedding reception last October, and back in 2005, it was the location for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall’s wedding reception too.

Of course, the venue is also rather convenient because it's close to Harry and Meghan’s new home, Frogmore Cottage – which is situated in the grounds of Windsor Castle's Home Park.

The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Pose With Their Newborn Son © WPA Pool - Getty Images The Duke & Duchess Of Sussex Pose With Their Newborn Son

Inside St George’s Hall

Key features

The large hall is lined with portraits and busts of monarchs and other royal members of the Order of the Garter. Paintings by Van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir Thomas Lawrence hang above the busts.

a room filled with furniture and a rug in front of a building: Windsor St Georges Hall © Tim Graham - Getty Images Windsor St Georges Hall

Look up and you'll see a glorious ceiling studded with the coats of arms of every single Knight of the Garter since the order was founded in 1348 (take a virtual tour here). The Royal Family’s website explains: 'The armoured figure on horseback at the east end of the hall is known as "The King's Champion". The Champion used to ride into the Coronation banquet held in Westminster Hall, throw his gauntlet three times and challenge anyone to deny the authority of the new sovereign.'

a close up of a church: St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle © WPA Pool - Getty Images St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle

The fire

A fire broke out at Windsor Castle on 20 November 1992, destroying 115 rooms, including nine State Rooms. The blaze started in Queen Victoria's Private Chapel (caused by a faulty spotlight which ignited a curtain next to the altar), and within minutes it had spread to St George's Hall next door.

a person standing in front of a building: Fire damage at St George's Hall, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, 1992. © Heritage Images - Getty Images Fire damage at St George's Hall, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, 1992.

The fire burned for a staggering 15 hours and was extinguished the day after. Rather incredibly, only two works of art were lost – a rosewood sideboard and a very large painting by Sir William Beechey that couldn't be taken down from the wall in time. Fortunately, works of art had already been removed from many rooms ahead of rewiring work, reveals the Royal Collection Trust.

a view of a city at sunset: England - London - Windsor Castle blazes at night © Richard Baker - Getty Images England - London - Windsor Castle blazes at night

The restoration

The St George's Hall you see today was 'restored to a design close to the room's original 14th-century appearance, but with a 20th-century reinterpretation'. As part of the five-year restoration, a hammer-beam roof was constructed from sustainable English oak using traditional methods and tools.

a display in a store: The Queen Presents New Standard To Royal Tank Regiment © WPA Pool - Getty Images The Queen Presents New Standard To Royal Tank Regiment

The Order of the Garter

It is this very hall that Knights of the Order of the Garter assemble before processing to St George's Chapel for their annual service.

State visits

a group of people walking in front of a building: George W Bush Visits Queen Elizabeth II At Windsor Castle © Tim Graham Royal Photos - Getty Images George W Bush Visits Queen Elizabeth II At Windsor Castle

There are two state visits each year, and at St George’s Hall, the visiting Head of State is welcomed with a banquet on the first evening. During this formal meal the Queen gives a speech to guests, which includes diplomats, senior government figures, and community and foreign nationals related to the visiting country.

a group of people on a stage: Windsor State Banquet © Pool/Tim Graham Picture Library - Getty Images Windsor State Banquet

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Gallery: Royal weddings held in Windsor: From Prince Harry and Meghan to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank (Hello)

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