Windsor Castle fire: what caused fire at Queen’s residence, how bad was the damage - cost of repairs explained

The Queen was left devastated after the fire, which started in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel

Windsor Castle was one of the Queen’s most favourite residences.

The late monarch will be buried in a private ceremony at King George VI Chapel in the castle grounds following her state funeral today.

However, in 1992 it was the scene of a raging fire that ripped through the 800-year-old Royal residence.

The Queen, who was not at Windsor at the time, was told about the fire by her son, Prince Andrew and was said to be left devastated.

But what caused the fire at Windsor Castle? Here’s everything you need to know.

Firemen fight the huge blaze at Windsor Castle in November, 1992 (Pic: AFP via Getty Images)

When was the fire at Windsor Castle?

The fire at Windsor Castle took place on the morning of 20 November 1992.

It began in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel, spreading to six rooms and three towers.

The flames gutted the building, with over 250 staff rushing to save historical items from the inferno.

Thankfully, no one died in the fire, but five firefighters were taken to hospital and three had to receive ambulance care on site.

What caused the fire at Windsor Castle?

The fire at Windsor Castle was believed to be caused by a spotlight which ignited a curtain on the chapel altar.

The warmth of the light on the fabric curtains caused them to go on fire, with flames quickly spreading throughout the building.

At the time the Castle was undergoing a refurbishment project in the upper ward, which meant that almost all the works of historical value had been removed from St George’s Hall which was beside the chapel.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service was called about the fire at 11:37am, but by then the flames had already spread higher.

In total, fire brigades from London, Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire worked until 2.30am on 21 November to put the fire out.

By then, the damage was extensive, with an estimated 100 rooms suffering from fire damage.

An aerial view of Windsor Castle after the fire (Pic: AFP via Getty Images)

How bad was the damage?

The damage to Windsor Castle was extensive.

Flames tore through Queen Victoria’s chapel, engulfing the corridor behind.

From here the fire travelled to the Vestry Tower, Brunswick Tower, upper kitchen area, the Crimson drawing room and the north east wing.

The Brunswick and Chester Towers, Red, Green and White Drawing Rooms, State Dining Room, Private Chapel, Grand Reception Room and St George’s Hall were all severely damaged.

Thankfully, the unique Waterloo Chamber and the Ante and Garter Throne Rooms were saved.

It’s estimated that more than 100 rooms were damaged.

Prince Andrew called the Queen to tell her the news, with the late monarch said to be left devastated.

How much did repairs cost?

Windsor Castle cost £36.5 million to be restored after the fire.

The Castle was not insured, as Royal residences like it are too expensive to insure, along with all of the valuable Royal items in the Royal collection.

To cover costs, 70% of the payments for the restoration work by opening up parts of Buckingham Palace to the public.

The Queen also donated £2 million of her own money and agreed to start paying income tax from 1993, making her the first monarch to do so.

Windsor Castle’s restoration was completed on 17 November, 1997, close to the fifth anniversary of the fire.