Greenwich's royal connections go right back to the 15th century. Three Tudor monarchs were born in Greenwich and James I also lived here, giving the borough to his wife Anne.
Royal interest in Greenwich began with King Henry V, who gave the land to his brother in the 1420s.
The Tudors in Greenwich
Henry VII, the first Tudor king, expanded the palace at Greenwich and his son Henry VIII was born there in 1491.
Henry VIII also loved the area, marrying two of his wives there, and it is where his daughters Mary and Elizabeth were born. As queen, Elizabeth maintained her connection to Greenwich, often spending summers in Greenwich, away from the bustle and dirtiness of London.
The Stuart connection
The Stuart connection began with Elizabeth I’s successor King James I, who resided in the old Tudor palace. He wanted to build another palace for his wife, Anne of Denmark, where she could entertain friends.
Anne asked architect Inigo Jones to plan the new house. She had previously employed him to design costumes and settings for a court masque. Inigo Jones used ideas from buildings that he had seen in Italy in his design for the Queen's House. Work on the building started in 1616 but Anne died before it was completed.
'House of Delight'
For several years, work on the unfinished building stopped, but then it was given to Henrietta Maria. She was the French wife of the new king, Charles I, who was the son of James I and Anne. Inigo Jones was finally able to finish the house for Henrietta Maria.
Queen Henrietta Maria turned the building into her personal ‘house of delight’, filling the rooms with the most cutting-edge art and design of the day. Henrietta Maria’s white and gold colours, fleur-de-lis symbol and initials are everywhere present in the house’s original features.
During the Civil War, Henrietta Maria escaped to France and it was there that she heard the news that her husband had been executed.
Many paintings and statues were removed from the house while she was away. Henrietta Maria did not go back to England until her son Charles II was restored to the throne. She finally returned from exile and came to live at the Queen's House in 1662.
After the royals
Queen Henrietta Maria returned to France for the last years of her life, and after she left, the Queen's House was not lived in by any other members of the royal family.
In 1690 it became the official home of the Ranger of Greenwich Park. However, when a new hospital for sailors was built on the site of the old Tudor palace, Queen Mary insisted that the view from the Queen's House to the River Thames should be left clear and not blocked by the new buildings. This view continues to the present day.