Dismay over Windsor Castle decision to end free entry perk for local residents

Windsor Castle is bringing an end to free admission for the town’s residents, in a move criticised by locals who say they see those in the “big house on the hill” as their neighbours.

The Royal Collection Trust is halting the long-established perk, which offers free entry to local people who have a Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Advantage Card, from June 1.

Cardholders will now have to pay for a ticket to world’s oldest and largest inhabited castle, but will receive a 50% discount, costing £15 in advance or £16.50 on the day, with free entry for one child up to the age of 17.

The King uses the 1,000-year-old fortress in Berkshire as one of his official residences and it is a working palace, often staging investitures and state visits, but remains open to the public throughout the year.

When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, she introduced tickets for visitors which could be obtained from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office or from select London booksellers.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Julian Tisi said locals happily welcomed millions of tourists a year and, in return, were able to visit the famous castle when they chose.

Mr Tisi, who is calling for people to support a petition against the change, said: “For many of us who live in Windsor, visiting the castle for free is a great pleasure.

“Some locals pop in to use the excellent cafe and who hasn’t taken visiting relatives for a day trip?”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
The King invests Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out, as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He added: “Windsor, and specifically the castle, is visited by millions of people from around the world.

“During the season, residents gladly welcome tourists to their shops and restaurants, they drive them around in taxis and are happy to give directions in the street.

“In return, we get to live and work near one of the most iconic buildings in the world – and visit when we choose.”

Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead councillor Amy Tisi said she was shocked the free entry offer was being withdrawn without consultation.

Royal wedding
Wellwishers flocked to Windsor during the Sussexes’ wedding at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in 2018 (Christopher Furlong/PA)

“We consider those in the ‘big house on the hill’ to be our neighbours and want to work with them on this to ensure no resident is priced out of visiting the castle,” she said.

“Leader of the council Simon Werner and I have written to the Royal Collection to ask for an urgent meeting and to ask them to change their mind.”

A Royal Collection Trust spokesperson said: “We regularly review our pricing against other organisations in the sector and based on this, updated our current Advantage Card offer to be in line with other businesses in the borough.

“We are continuing to explore ways to make the Castle as accessible as possible to visitors from the local area, with current initiatives including free visits for community organisations working with under-represented groups, and a travel subsidy and access scheme for schools working with children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation – Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation dress on display in St George’s Hall and the Lantern Lobby of Windsor Castle in 2022 (Aaron Chown/PA)

Income generated from admissions to the castle contributes directly to the Royal Collection Trust charity which cares for the Royal Collection and works to promote of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes.

Advance adult tickets to Windsor Castle cost £30 per person, while those aged 18-24 can buy advance tickets for £19.50. Child (5-17) and disabled tickets are priced at £15 and access companion tickets and under fives are free.

Visitor information and tickets for Windsor Castle can be found at www.rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle