Queen Elizabeth II's special connection with Windsor Great Park – BBC

By Helena Wilkinson
BBC News

From the iconic tree-lined Long Walk where red deer roam freely, to the 4,800 acres of majestic trees, lakes and ornamental gardens, it is easy to see why Windsor Great Park was so special to the Queen.
She was able to relax here, find refuge.
Locals would see the Queen in and around the park – sometimes driving up the Long Walk on her way to the Royal Chapel of All Saints for Sunday worship, other times driving through the park to Smith's Lawn to watch polo. But they afforded her privacy.
The Queen's association with Windsor Great Park began when her family moved to Windsor in the 1930s when she was a young princess.
It was at the park where she learnt to ride horses, leading to a life-long passion.
"I think at that time there was great freedom to ride around on her horse, or her pony, exploring the great expanses of the park, the ancient trees, the parkland," Paul Sedgwick, deputy ranger of Windsor Great Park, said.
He added he was "very lucky" to have been able to spend a lot of time with the Queen.
He said she was "fantastic" at "offering advice, guidance and support" and took a "huge interest" in the park.
When she ascended to the throne, one of the first things the Queen did was to make her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh, the ranger of Windsor Great Park.
Together they worked towards protecting and preserving it.
The Queen was known to take a great interest in the park's gardens.
In the spring and summer months, she would visit two of them – the Savill Garden with its beautifully designed gardens and the Valley Gardens for its charming woodland trails and seasonal displays.
She would also regularly walk her beloved corgis in Frogmore Gardens, set within Windsor Castle's private grounds, the Home Park.
"All of the gardens at different times of year afforded Her Majesty an element of privacy where she could come and walk and enjoy the gardens in her own time," Mr Sedgwick said.
During Covid and lockdown, when the Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle, Mr Sedgwick said every Friday morning they would send her a fresh bouquet of flowers from one of the three gardens in Windsor Great Park.
"It just felt a natural thing to do," he said.
"The gardens team suggested it and every Friday morning flowers from either the Savill Garden, the Valley Gardens or Frogmore would go up to the castle for Her Majesty."
Around Windsor Great Park there are reminders of the Queen, including a statue of her on horseback looking across the park to Windsor Castle.
It was a Golden Jubilee gift from the Crown Estate.
Paul Sedgwick said the Queen's legacy was "all around" the park and the town.
"The legacy that you can see that both the Queen and the Duke left across the park, the avenues of trees, the reintroduction of the red deer, the expansion of the formal gardens. It's a life-long legacy that continues nearly a thousand years of royal patronage at Windsor," he added.
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