How did the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle start?

WINDSOR CASTLE is one of the most iconic buildings in the country, but it was previously engulfed in flames after a fire broke out in 1992.

The incident destroyed 115 bedrooms and took five years to restore and is said to have “devastated” the Queen.

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In 1992, Windsor Castle suffered a devastating fire, which caused millions of pounds of damageCredit: AP
Queen Elizabeth II inspects the fire damage at Windsor Castle the next day when it is in flames

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Queen Elizabeth II inspects the fire damage at Windsor Castle the next day when it is in flamesCredit: PA: Press Association

What caused the fire at Windsor Castle?

On November 20, 1992, a faulty projector in Queen Victoria’s private chapel in windsor castle set fire to a curtain beside the altar.

Minutes later, the fire began to spread around the historic castle, including nearby St George’s Hall.

The blaze was spotted at 11:30 a.m. and within three hours a team of 225 firefighters from seven counties were tackling the outbreak.

This involved the use of 36 pumps and the dumping of 1.5 million gallons of water.

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No one was killed in the fire, although six people were slightly injured.

What part of Windsor Castle was destroyed?

The fire destroyed 115 rooms, including nine State Rooms.

Fortunately, due to rewiring and other work going on at the time, most of the artwork and valuables had already been stored.

Prince Andrew, who unlike the Queen and Prince Philip was there at the time, organized a human chain to bring out the treasures that were still in place.

They managed to save all but two of the pieces: a rosewood sideboard and a huge 1798 painting of George III by Sir William Beechey.

A corner of the castle – the stronghold of the monarchy for nearly 1,000 years – had been reduced to almost smoking rubble.

Over the next few years the castle was restored and the project cost £36.5 million.

Initially, the work was to be paid for by the taxpayer, as Windsor Castle is owned by the government, not the royal family.

However, after the outcry, the Queen paid for 70% of the restoration work and opened parts of Buckingham Palace to the public to generate revenue.

The official completion date was November 20, 1997, five years to the day after the fire started.

It also coincided with the 50th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

What did the Queen say about the Windsor Castle fire?

The Queen was initially told of the tragic news by a phone call from Prince Andrew and was reportedly devastated.

The next afternoon, she surveyed the damage, a shocked little figure in a hooded raincoat.

Four days later, on November 24, in a speech at Guildhall on the 40th anniversary of her accession, she referred to 1992 as Annus Horribilis.

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She said, “1992 is not a year I will look back on with undiluted pleasure.

“In the words of one of my friendliest correspondents, he turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’.”

Fire damage to St George's Hall, Windsor Castle

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Fire damage to St George’s Hall, Windsor CastleCredit: Getty
Interior view of Windsor Castle showing restoration work after it was damaged

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Interior view of Windsor Castle showing restoration work after it was damagedCredit: Getty
The day after the fire which severely damaged large parts of Windsor Castle

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The day after the fire which severely damaged large parts of Windsor CastleCredit: PA