It was the beloved home of the monarch who gave up the throne so he could marry a divorcee.
Fort Belvedere became the main residence of the future King Edward VIII in 1929, when he was the Prince of Wales.
Situated in Windsor Great Park, within a short drive of Sunningdale Golf Course and Windsor Castle, the property was built after the infamous Jacobite rising in 1745.
The Grade II listed home, which was converted into a country retreat by King George IV in 1827, was adored by Edward and it was where he signed his abdication papers in 1936 after just 11 months on the throne.
Edward was forced to give up his position because he insisted on marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Fort Belvedere, which is currently occupied by the billionaire Weston family but is still owned by the Crown Estate, is believed to have been considered by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a base amid reports that they are set to move to Windsor this summer.
Whilst Edward’s former home is said to have been ruled out, along with Prince Andrew’s Royal Lodge, sources claimed yesterday that the couple have also considered Frogmore Cottage, the former home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Prince William and Kate are said to be setting to make the move to Windsor so that they can be closer to the Queen.
Fort Belvedere became the main residence of the future King Edward VIII in 1929, when he was the Prince of Wales. Above: The exterior of the property pictured in 2006
The home, which was converted into a country retreat by King George IV in 1827, was adored by Edward and it was where he signed his abdication papers in 1936 after just 11 months on the throne. Pictured: Edward and Wallis at Fort Belvedere before he abdicated
Fort Belvedere was built in the 18th century after the failed attempt by ‘Young Pretender’ Charles Edward Stuart to gain the throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart.
Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII: A scandal that rocked a nation
January 1931 – Wallis meets Prince Edward in January 1931, after being introduced via her friend Lady Furness
1931- 1934 – The American divorcee and the heir to the throne see each other regularly at various parties
August 1934 – Wallis admits she and Edward are no longer just friends, after joining him on a cruise
January 1936 – King George V dies. Edward asks Wallis to watch the proclamation of his accession with him from St. James’s Palace
August 1936 – The pair enjoy a cruise around the Adriatic sea with friends. Details of their relationship appear in the American press
December 11, 1936 – Edward announces his abdication
June 3, 1937 – The couple get married in the south of France. Wallis was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, but was not allowed to share her husband’s title of ‘Royal Highness.’
It was built for Prince William Augustus, who was the younger son of King George II.
The fort once boasted several cannons used in the Jacobite rising.
A dining room and other facilities were added when it was converted into a country retreat by George IV.
From then onwards, the fort was used as a saluting battery for royal birthdays and important royal events.
Over the decades, the contingent of gunners based at the fort was reduced, until the last remaining soldier died in 1910.
During Queen Victoria’s reign, the building was used as a tea house in the summer months
Edward rescued the building from falling into decay and spent significant sums of his own money to enlarge and improve the original building.
He installed a swimming pool, a tennis court and even a Turkish bath.
The future king also had his own aeroplanes and private landing area near the fort, where he held lavish parties.
Photos showed him posing outside the property with Mrs Simpson, whom he had begun a relationship with in the early 1930s.
Edward’s relationship with Wallis, who had been twice married before her union with him, was a scandal when news first emerged of it.
His proposition to marry her – whilst divorce proceedings with her second husband were still ongoing – sparked a constitutional crisis which culminated in Edward’s decision to abdicate.
It also destroyed his relationship with his mother Queen Mary, his brother the future king, and sister-in-law Queen Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother.
Stanley Baldwin, the then Prime Minister, traveled to Fort Belvedere to see Edward in the days before he made his decision to abdicate.
The night before he stood down as king, Edward dined with his brother the Duke of York, who would go on to become King George VI.
Fort Belvedere, which is currently occupied by private tenants, is believed to have been considered by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a base amid reports that they are set to move to Windsor this summer
Edward rescued the building from falling into decay and spent significant sums of his own money to enlarge and improve the original building. Above: The property at the time of Edward’s abdication
One of the bedrooms inside Fort Belvedere is pictured above in 1976, when it was occupied by private tenants
Fort Belvedere was built in the 18th century after the failed attempt by ‘Young Pretender’ Charles Edward Stuart to gain the throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart. The fort once boasted several cannons (pictured in 1929) used in the Jacobite rising
Aerial view of the Duke of Windsor’s grade II listed – Fort Belvedere. This Gothic revival residence in Windsor Great Park is where the Abdication was signed in December 1936
Edward installed a swimming pool, a tennis court and even a Turkish bath at Fort Belvedere when he was given it by his father in 1929
The Duke and Duchess featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine together in 1950. The DUke wore a smart striped suit whilst the Duchess donned glamorous jewellery for the photoshoot
Wallis described in her autobiography how she received hate mail. She wrote: ‘There can be few expletives applicable to my sex that were missing from my morning tray’. Pictured: The Duchess in 1936
Edward’s proposal to marry Wallis – whilst divorce proceedings with her second husband were still ongoing – sparked a constitutional crisis which culminated in Edward’s decision to abdicate. Above: The couple on the day of their wedding in 1937
After the Second World War, Edward and Wallis spent most of their time socialising and traveling between their Paris home and the US. Pictured: The pair arriving in Britain in 1967 for a visit as guests of the Queen
The Duke’s abdication, which occurred in December 1936, rocked the monarchy and the country to its core. Above: Edward giving his abdication broadcast to the nation from Windsor Castle
Reporters are seen at the gates of Fort Belvedere during the abdication crisis in 1936. Edward had to abdicate because he insisted on marrying divorcee Wallis Simpson
A dispatch rider brings the Abdication Bill to Fort Belvedere for King Edward VIII to sign. King Edward ceased to be King at 1.52 on December 11
The Instrument of Abdication of King Edward VIII, 10th December 1936. It was signed by himself and his three brothers, Albert (George VI), Henry (Duke of Gloucester) and George (Duke of Kent) at Fort Belvedere in Berkshire
The following day, on December 11, 1936, the Daily Mail reported that Edward ‘signed the instrument of abdication at 10 a.m. to-day in his study on the ground floor of Fort Belvedere.
‘At the signing took place the flag of the Duchy of Cornwall over the fort was lowered and later it was run up again to the masthead.
‘Crowds gathered at both the main gates of Fort Belvedere early in the day, and at 10 o’clock the three Royal Dukes arrived separately to play their part in the last act of one of the most dramatic sequences in history.
‘At the time none of the spectators knew that the Princes had come to witness the signing oft eh abdication of their brother. ‘
His three brothers were there to witness Edward sign the abdication notices.
After Edward’s abdication, he is reported to have been very upset when his brother, the new king, refused to renew the warrant allowing him to occupy Fort Belvedere.
By then, Edward and his new wife, whom he married in 1937, were living in France.
Fort Belvedere on Shrubs Hill in Windsor Great Park, Surrey, UK, 12th June 1963. It was then lived in by Gerald and Angela Lascelles
The fort is seen when it was occupied by King Edward VIII. In the two decades after Edward left, Fort Belvedere remained largely empty
In the two decades after Edward left, Fort Belvedere remained largely empty, but was used during the Second World War as a base for the the Office of the Commissioners of Crown Lands, who had been evacuated from their central London offices.
The home was later lived in by Gerald Lascelles – a grandson of King George V – and then Canadian billionaire Galen Weston. The property is still occupied by the Weston family, who are close to the Royal Family.
According to The Sun, William and Kate have ruled out royal mansions, including Fort Belvedere, as they look for somewhere in Windsor.
The Queen is reported to have made Windsor Castle her permanent home and main residence, meaning the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be much nearer to her if they make their move.
A source told The Sun that the need for the couple to move to Windsor with their children is growing ‘more and more’ due to the fact that the disgraced Prince Andrew ‘spends a lot of time’ with the Queen.
They told the newspaper: ‘There is not a man, woman or child who would not say he had every right to be at Philip’s thanksgiving. But the family have been adamant there’s no way back.
‘There are real fears that despite being banished from The Firm in January, he is using his closeness to the Queen as a springboard back into public life.’
Andrew was forced to step back from public life following his settlement of a sexual assault case with accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
WHO WAS WALLIS SIMPSON AND HOW DID SHE SHAPE THE ROYAL FAMILY?
Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson.
She struck up a friendship with Lady Thelma Furness who was the mistress of the then Prince of Wales.
Over the course of 1931, the Simpsons were gradually absorbed into Edward’s social life, spending frequent weekends with him at Fort Belvedere, his 18th-century home in the grounds of Windsor Great Park.
The turning-point in the friendship came in January 1934, when Thelma sailed off for a visit to the United States. According to Wallis, Thelma said laughingly, ‘I’m afraid the Prince is going to be lonely. Wallis, won’t you look after him?’
As the pair grew closer, he wooed Wallis with gifts of jewellery as well as money to buy clothes and other luxuries.
At Edward’s insistence, Wallis, wearing a tiara borrowed from Cartier, was formally presented to his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. The meeting, at which few words were exchanged, was not a success.
Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson
Outraged to have to receive ‘that woman in my own house’, the King gave orders that Mrs Simpson was not to be invited to any of the Silver Jubilee functions being planned for the following year, nor to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.
As news of the affair spread, the Duchess of York — later Elizabeth, the Queen Mother — declared openly that she would no longer meet Mrs Simpson and would beat a hasty retreat whenever ‘that woman’ walked into the same party.
In 1936 Edward ascended the throne after the death of his father George V. He made clear his intentions to marry Wallis as soon as her second divorce came through.
It caused a national scandal and the Church of England decreed he couldn’t marry a divorcee with two living former husbands.
Wallis went to live in exile in France to escape the pressure, and in December 1936 Edward abdicated so they could marry, assuming the lesser title of Duke of Windsor.
The King abdicated, signing off his brief reign with a broadcast that referred to ‘the woman I love’.
When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House, Windsor
Simpson received abusive and hostile hate mail and was accused of being a Nazi sympathiser.
In 1937, she and Edward went to Germany to meet Hitler, before the atrocities of the Second World War, with her husband keen for her to experience the pomp and ceremony of a royal tour, denied to Wallis in England.
Edward become governor of The Bahamas between 1940 and 1945, and the couple lived out the rest of their days enjoying the life of high society figures.
However, she never lost her affection for Ernest Simpson, her beloved second husband and her friends and confidantes have since said that she never wanted to divorce him.
Significantly, she kept writing to him and these intimate letters, which have only come to light in recent years, reveal that Wallis was beset by fears and regrets over how her life had turned out.
When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89.
She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House.
Frogmore Cottage, one of the properties in the grounds of the estate, is where Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle lived before they moved to California last year.