It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. We extend our deepest sympathies to Her Majesty The Queen and all members of the Royal Family.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was the Ranger of the Great Park for nearly 70 years and during this time his impact on one of the most recognised landscapes in the world has been immense. He has provided guidance and insight to our team to help them manage the Great Park and the wider estate, from the farms to the wildlife to the ancient woodlands, ensuring it can continue to offer a rich sanctuary for all, for generations to come. We will miss him greatly and there is no doubt that his influence will continue to be seen in our work across the Great Park.
His Royal Highness’s commitment to protecting the Great Park for the long-term can be best summed up in his own words: “The management of land is a very long-term business and the best results can only be achieved if there is confidence and continuity. We are enjoying the gardens and avenues and amenities planted by previous generations and it is because I feel myself to be a temporary custodian that I am planting for future generations.”
A progressive independent commercial business, created by Act of Parliament. Our portfolio includes the whole of Regent Street and much of St James’s in London’s West End, prime regional shopping centres, Windsor Great Park, rural land and coastline, and the UK’s seabed.
The primary responsibility of the Ranger is to oversee the protection and maintenance of Windsor Great Park – to ensure it continues to be enjoyed by generations to come.
The Ranger of Windsor Great Park is often a member of the Royal family, and this role was held by H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh since 1952. For more information about H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh take a look here.
H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh took an active role in overseeing many developments during his office, including the reintroduction of our Red Deer into the Deer Park in 1979 and the development of The Savill Garden Visitor Centre and Virginia Water Pavilion.
In the mid 1600s, a property called Byfield House was built within Windsor Great Park to house the Ranger – who at the time was Baptist May – and this is now known today as Cumberland Lodge. Then in 1766 Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, became the first Ranger to live in Lower Lodge, now known as the Royal Lodge – which became the home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother until her death in 2002.
One of the most notable rangers of Windsor Great Park was William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who held the position from 1746 to 1766. With the desire for a more natural and picturesque landscape, he set about creating Virginia Water - the largest man-made lake of its time in Britain - assisted by architects Henry Flitcroft and John Vardy. Today, the towering Cumberland Obelisk on Obelisk Lawn celebrates the inspiring work of the Duke of Cumberland in his time as Ranger of Windsor Great Park.
King George IV also held the role of Ranger, both as Regent and King, from 1815 to 1830. During this time he recruited the help of the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville to introduce new features to the Virginia Water landscape – most notably Five Arch Bridge, from where you can look out across the lake towards the same views that King George IV enjoyed. During this time he made other important additions to the Great Park, including the folly of the Leptis Magna Roman Ruins and the iconic Copper Horse statue, erected at the Long Walk as a tribute to his father, George III.
Both Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, held the post of Ranger – from 1837 to 1841 and from 1841 to 1861 respectively. Prince Albert especially had a significant impact on Windsor Great Park - committing himself to improving the living conditions of Estate workers, building cottages and establishing the Royal School, so that Estate children could benefit from a thorough education. An equestrian statue commemorating his outstanding contributions to the Great Park can be seen near Smith’s Lawn.
Under the patronage of King George VI, who was Ranger from 1936 to 1952, Sir Eric Savill created The Savill Garden and The Valley Gardens – two of the most important developments within the Great Park in the 20th Century. Then one of the most recent additions to Windsor Great Park has been Ranger’s Avenue, a row of young native oaks which was created at the same time as the restoration of Cow Pond and runs from the pond towards Cumberland Lodge. This was planted in 2012 in honour of the Ranger at this time, H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh.