Prince Charles has opened up his homes – and personal family albums – as part of a special project to give fans an intimate glimpse at his private life as he prepares to celebrate his 70th birthday tomorrow.
Charles allowed specialist Google photographers unparalleled access to the opulent rooms of Clarence House, his London residence, so they could capture images from every angle to create a 360-degree look inside the property.
The result is an online virtual tour that allows ‘visitors’ from all over the world to explore sites like the Entrance Hall, Morning Room and quirky Horse Corridor in as much detail as if they were there in person. Viewers are able to move the camera up and down to look at the ceilings and floors and to even ‘zoom’ into individual places of interest.
The process was repeated in the rooms of Dumfries House, the Scottish mansion Charles helped save for the nation, and the grounds of his country retreat Highgrove House, Gloucestershire, which has been a passion project for the prince over the last 28 years.
Alongside the virtual tours, Charles offered up photographs from his personal collection to a new online gallery that captures his life from his birth in 1948, to the birth of his youngest grandson, Prince Louis of Cambridge, this year. Among the highlights are a series of images showing Charles teaching a young Prince Harry to fly fish in Balmoral, Scotland, in 1993.
Clarence House: Google has made Prince Charles’ homes available to explore at the click of a button, in order to celebrate the royal’s landmark 70th birthday on Wednesday. The Morning Room, pictured, is one of the reception rooms of Clarence House. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall use the room for entertaining visitors and as the backdrop for official royal family portraits
Family album: Prince Charles also offered up photographs from his personal collection for new online picture gallery that captures his life from his birth in 1948, to the birth of his youngest grandson, Prince Louis of Cambridge, this year. Among the images is this one of Prince Charles teaching Prince Harry to fly fish on The Balmoral Estate in August 1993
A life in images: The young Prince Harry looks up at his father for reassurance during the touching family moment captured on camera
Dumfries House: Viewers are also able to explore the vast Entrance Hall of Dumfries House, Ayrshire, in the online project
Highgrove House: The incredible virtual tour also offers ‘visitors’ the opportunity to tour the grounds of Highgrove House
The collection also includes three watercolour paintings by Charles, including a portrait of his beloved grandmother the Queen Mother, as well as footage of the royal as a child.
Suhair Khan, head of Google UK’s arts and culture department, said: ‘This is a journey through Clarence House and the personal collection of His Royal Highness and the royal family.’
She added: ‘Now using 360-degree imagery anyone can stroll down the halls, explore the art collection, go from one room to another and really come up close with a lot of the artworks.’
Julian Payne, the Prince of Wales’ communications secretary, said the heir to the throne had been keeping a ‘close eye’ on the project.
He added: ‘When we received the invitation to develop the site for the prince he was honoured and I think fascinated by what could be done for the charities more than anything else, but also understood to share things like the artwork in Clarence House.’
The experience allows royal fans to take a closer look at the treasures of the royal households. Pictured, the entrance hall of Clarence House, Charles’ official London residence, is hung with paintings and tapestries
The virtual tour allows people to inch down the entrance hall, as if they were walking through the house themselves. Clarence House, built between 1825 and 1827, acts as a gallery for some of the Royal Family’s historic paintings and busts
A left turn through a door off the corridor takes viewers into the Morning Room at Clarence House, where Prince Louis’ official christening portraits were taken. A framed portrait of Prince Charles’ mother the Queen can be seen on the table on the left
Morning Room: The reception room of Clarence House features beautiful blue draped curtains and upholstered furniture in the same shade. Family photos are displayed in frames on side tables while painted portraits adorn the walls
Clarence House, the London home Prince Charles shares with his wife the Duchess of Corwnwall, is brought to life in the stunning Google Street View project.
Virtual visitors can inch down the beautiful Entrance Hall, which is hung with ornate tapestries and painted portraits of Charles’ ancestors.
There are also nods to the current generation of royals: with a framed portrait of the Queen and a photo of Charles with his sons, William, 36, and Harry, 34, on display in pride of place on an ornate wood sideboard.
Further down the hall ‘visitors’ can peer up the impressive wooden staircase towards the next floor of the house.
Through a door on the left of the hallway, visitors are led into the Morning Room – one of the property’s reception rooms. It is used for a number of public and private occasions.
It was recently used as the setting for the official family portraits following Prince Louis’ christening in July.
Library: The Morning Room leads through to the Library, pictured, where a table is laid out for afternoon tea
Dining Room: Through the Library one can enter the spectacular Dining Room, pictured, which boasts several paintings
Horse Corridor: Elsewhere virtual visitors can stroll down Horse Corridor and admire the paintings that give it its name
The new initiative means fans can stroll down the halls of Clarence House in London (above) and go from one room to another
Dumfries House is one of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes. Set in 2,000 acres of land, the stunning estate and 18th-century house with its unrivalled collection of original furniture.
While it is not a royal residence, it holds special significance for Prince Charles – known as the Duke of Rothesay – as he intervened to save the property in 2007. It followed three years of uncertainty during which it was feared the important furniture collection would be distributed and auctioned.
Ultimately its entire contents was purchased for £45million for the country by a consortium headed by Charles, including a £20million loan from the Prince’s charitable trust.
The results of the restoration work that followed are captured in the Google tour, which offers a look at key rooms including the Blue Bedroom, the Pink Dining Room and the School Room.
The Pink Dining Room: A favourite of Prince Charles, the Pink Dining Room is the best preserved room of the house. The spectacular pink Murano Glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling, dating from ca.1760, was found in pieces in the basement in 2007. The Dumfries House Trust sent the chandelier to a workshop in Kent where it was carefully cleaned and restored
The Entrance Hall: The Hall would have originally been white. However, in the late 19th-century the 3rd Marquess of Bute commissioned Glasgow based decorators to add colour and gilding to the ceiling. The Dumfries House Trust chose to reduce the gilding and return to the stone and dark grey colours more in keeping with 18th century design
Highgrove House in Gloucestershire is the private residence of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess Of Cornwall.
Originally built in a Georgian Neoclassical style between 1796 and 1798, Highgrove has been home to The Prince since 1980.
During that time, His Royal Highness has made extensive changes to both the house and garden. The transformation of Highgrove Garden has been a passionate project for The Prince of Wales.
On The Prince’s arrival at Highgrove, the garden boasted little more than a neglected kitchen garden, an overgrown copse, some pastureland and a few hollow oaks.
Today, the gardens at Highgrove are widely considered some of the most inspiring and innovative in the UK – and are full of personal touches dreamed up by The Prince himself.
Highgrove House in Gloucestershire is the private residence of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess Of Cornwall. The transformation of Highgrove Garden has been a passionate project for The Prince of Wales
The Stumpery, pictured, is one of the highlights of the garden tour. A tranquil corner of the garden, and a rich habitat for wildlife, The Stumpery is inspired by a Victorian concept of growing ferns amongst upturned tree stumps
Showcasing wood’s natural sculptural qualities, The Stumpery features two classical style temples, crafted from green oak and cut to resemble stone
Prince Charles’ family album: Personal photographs offer an intimate look at the royal’s life
In one section of the website, Charles’ life is told in pictures and video, including black-and-white footage of the toddler prince at play.
A sequence of images also show Prince Harry fishing with his father, as well as official portraits from his and Meghan’s big day, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.
The site is designed to showcase Charles’ passion for art and heritage through his life, work and the charities he supports.
One section focuses on the work of his Afghanistan-based organisation Turquoise Mountain, which is restoring historic buildings in Kabul.
A prince is born: On 14 November 1948, The Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – and The Duke of Edinburgh, celebrated the birth of their first child. Charles Philip Arthur George was born at Buckingham Palace at 9.14pm, weighing 7lb and 6oz
For the first few years of his life, Prince Charles lived at Clarence House with his parents, then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Pictured, the Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – looks every inch the proud mother with her son on his first birthday
With grandfather: A young Prince Charles chats happily with his grandfather, King George VI, on a beautiful sofa
Family time: The then Princess Elizabeth helps Prince Charles as he clambers up the walls into a window of Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire, in September 1952, left. His younger sister Anne, right, soon wanted to join in the fun, right
Big brother: Princess Anne breaks into giggles as she poses for a photo with a four-year-old Prince Charles in January 1953
The new pages of the website, which went live this morning, allows royal fan to zoom into three watercolours by the prince, so individual brush strokes can be seen.
One painting shows the Queen Mother’s former Scottish home the Castle of Mey, while the other two are paintings of crofts, or rural homes, on the island of Stroma north of John O’Groats.
The watercolours are accompanied by photographs of the prince painting, sitting in a canvas chair with the Castle of Mey in the distance, or wearing sunglasses with a pencil in his hand and a pad on his lap.
Prince Charles’ grandfather, King George VI, died on 6 February 1952. His mother was proclaimed Queen Elizabeth II, making 3-year-old Prince Charles the heir apparent. The Queen’s coronation was held at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, where the young Prince was pictured between his grandmother, The Queen Mother, and aunt, Princess Margaret
Google has used rarely-seen photographs as part of the project, including black-and-white footage of Charles as a toddler. Pictured is Charles with the Queen on his fourth birthday, in a photo taken at Buckingham Palace
Pictured, William and Harry were raised at Kensington Palace, but are shown here on the shores of Loch Muick during a family holiday to Balmoral