Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WINDSOR, England — I might be in the minority on this issue, but I think this city is far more interesting than the castle which shares its name and spawned a sort of nom de plume for Britain’s royal family.
I had only a brief chance to visit here in July but I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one. Don’t get me wrong, Windsor Castle is fascinating for all the right reasons. It’s got history and it’s still an occasional residence for the royal family.
On a side note, here is an interesting tidbit about Windsor Castle. During World War I, when there was a strong anti-German sentiment in England, the ruling family was the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Yeah, it’s not a pretty family name. I would hate to have that as my family name and you probably would, too.
In a purely public relations move to make the royal family look good, King George V decided during the war to make the family name as English as possible. So, he took the castle’s name and the family became the House of Windsor and it’s stuck ever since.
It’s just got a lot of Queen Victoria — and, by a lot, I mean it’s like a shrine to her reign. Early on, there are some references to the Hapsburg kings who came immediately before Victoria.
As you go on the tour, however, it’s all “these are gifts the empire gave to Queen Victoria” and “Victoria did such and such in here” and “here is a portrait of Prince Albert” and “here are some people who were important in Queen Victoria’s court.”
Then there’s a statue of Queen Victoria in the middle of an intersection right outside the castle’s walls.
If you’re a fan of Victorian history, then that’s great. Fortunately, I do have some interest in that era. I would have liked to have learned a little bit more, however. Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is there, and if you’re wondering which Queen Mary I’m referring to, it’s Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother.
There is a portrait of Elizabeth on display in the castle. I guess if you’re going to have a shrine to Victoria, you’d better include a portrait of the only other English monarch whose reign has reached the 60-year mark.
Going back to the statue of Victoria in the intersection, however, that brings me to what I found to be truly fascinating — the city itself.
Windsor is a quaint place which has the look of a village and the vibe of a mid-sized city. Maybe it’s because there is a giant castle in town acting as a tourist magnet, but there is a flow in town that everyone is welcome.
On Thames Street — which runs a long the castle wall and swings down to the Windsor and Eton train station — there is a mix of chain restaurants, pubs, ethnic restaurants, coffee bars, chocolate shops, chain retailers, boutiques, banks and little souvenir shops. There is also an entrance to a larger outdoor shopping area off Thames Street.
I have to say this much about Windsor — you’d never know Olympic rowing events were taking place nearby because everything just seemed to flow smoothly and there never seemed to be a large crowd.
I didn’t get a lot of time to do any looking around in town, but I did get to stop by some shops near the castle. Of course, they are still selling memorabilia from the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Did I buy it?
You better believe I did. How many chances will I get to buy that?
This was the only time I was probably ever going to be in the town whose castle’ name became famous as a royal family’s name. I wasn’t going to pass this up.
Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at email@example.com.