Much has been made of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s renovation of Frogmore Cottage into a luxury Royal residence befitting a modern Royal couple.
As detractors fret over the modernising influence that the Duchess of Sussex may have over the Duke, his family and – more directly – Frogmore Cottage itself, it’s worth remembering that the couple’s fondness for the shabby chic decor of Soho House is hardly the most extravagant taste shown by a British Royal.
Henry VIII was famously vain, keen on showcasing his power and indulging his passions, so let’s take a moment to imagine the style tips he might have offered to the young Royal couple embarking on an exciting new stage in their lives…
Wood. Lots and lots of wood
King Henry VIII’s bedroom at Hever Castle (shown above) is literally encased from floor to ceiling in dark, ornately-carved wood – much like his wife Anne Boelyn’s bedroom at the same property. It creates a strangely incongruous feeling of foreboding warmth, and we feel that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – with their taste for brightly-coloured soft furnishings and vintage mirrors – may be going in another direction entirely.
A plus-size bowling alley
Meghan may have requested a yoga studio in in Frogmore Cottage to indulge her penchant for flexible fitness, but Henry VIII had an entire bowling alley installed in his home at Hampton Court Palace. At 90 feet long, it was a third longer than bowling lanes today, and Henry was such a keen proponent of the sport that he took his ‘bowling shed’ with him when he went to war with Emperor Maximilian in 1521 – an undeniably extravagant measure that allowed him to keep his game sharp between battles.
A mystifying maze
The notoriously fiendish maze at Hampton Court Palace dates back to the reign of William III of Orange in 1690, but evidence suggests this one was built to replace an even older one that was most likely designed for Henry VIII. Monarchs of yore may have relished the opportunity to lose themselves in the privacy of their own home, but it seems the lack of privacy afforded to Royals today would make it difficult to lose themselves at all – in a maze or otherwise!
Fill your home with music
Henry VIII is widely believed – but not categorically proven – to have composed the famous English folk song Greensleeves, as a token of love for his future Queen Anne Boleyn. Whether this is true or not, Henry was most certainly an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, filling his home with 20 recorders, 19 viols, 2 clavichords and four sets of bagpipes – one of which was fashioned from truly fabulous purple velvet and ivory.
Meghan Markle may not play an instrument, but she and Harry have made their love of music known by having young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason playing at their wedding. Perhaps, given Prince Harry’s musical past, a wall-mounted tambourine is in order?
Fill your home with animals
Henry was a known animal-lover, and kept a menagerie of dogs, hawks, ferrets, falcons, canaries, nightingales and one single marmoset – a Christmas present he received in the 1530s, matching the one his wife Katherine of Aragon owned. At one point, he even had a pair of gold-plated monkeys that he had received as a gift from Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Selim I. In fact, there is a long tradition of the Royal family keeping exotic animals – from Henry III keeping a polar bear at the Tower of London, all the way through to the Queen’s somewhat less exotic (and considerably less dangerous) collection of Corgis. What animal might take Meghan and Harry’s fancy?
A hideous mask
Before Henry VIII went to war with Roman Emperor Maximilian I in 1521, he received this nightmarish helmet from him as a gift in 1514 – perhaps a portent of things to come? As formidable a sight as this might have been in battle – especially if appearing at the top of the hulking frame of King Henry VIII – one could imagine tempestuous Henry suggesting the glowingly beautiful Meghan Markle use this helmet to scare off the paparazzi.
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