Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) — Now that Duchess Kate is home from the hospital with her newborn daughter, she, Prince William and their older child, Prince George, are spending time at their home in nearby Kensington Palace.
After that, Kate, Prince William, Prince George and the new baby are likely to retreat to their country home, Anmer Hall, a 10-bedroom home on the queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England.
It is there, in a quiet, small town atmosphere, that William, 32, and Kate, 33, intend to settle for the first few months of the princess’s life.
“There’s a huge amount of private space there,” royal commentator and writer Roya Nikkhah told ABC News recently. “There’s an enormous garden. There’s tennis, there’s swimming — but all in one place.”
“They don’t have to get protection officers to take them from one bit to the other as they do in London,” Nikkhah said.
The couple spent nearly $2.5 million to renovate the property including a conservatory, a new kitchen and a new roof. Kate has been seen at the local shops even bargaining for a discount as she decorates the mansion so she and William can call it home.
The 10-bedroom home has plenty of space for William and Kate to welcome relatives — including Kate’s Middleton clan — who want to be a part of George and the new baby’s upbringing. William and Kate spent last Christmas at the home alongside family and Anmer Hall is where William and his brother, Prince Harry, vacationed as children, themselves.
Some of the couple’s closest friends and family are still in Norfolk, an area commonly known as the “Norfolk Riviera” because of its short distance from the seaside. The area gives the Duke and Duchess the privacy and lifestyle they enjoyed in their seaside home in Wales, where they spent their earliest years of marriage..
Hugh Van Cutsem, a childhood friend of William and Harry’s, is godfather to Prince George and lives in Norfolk. His curly-haired daughter, Grace, stole the show as William and Kate’s flower girl at their wedding by covering her ears and is also William’s goddaughter.
Van Cutsem’s family, wealthy landowners and bankers, rented Anmer Hall for 10 years and William and Harry spent many years in the countryside hunting, riding and playing with the Van Cutsem sons. The home was given to Prince William by his grandmother, the queen, on his 30th birthday.
William’s cousin, Laura Fellowes, a writer who is the daughter of Princess Diana’s sister, Lady Fellowes, lives nearby with her husband two children, while James Meade, a friend of Prince William from Eton, and his wife, Laura, are old family friends who also have a place near Anmer Hall.
William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, was born on the Sandringham estate, a stone’s throw from Anmer Hall, in 1961. Diana was raised in the estate’s Park House and her family rented the property for many years from the royal family until the Spencers moved to their ancestral home, Althorp.
Princess Diana wanted as normal a life as possible for William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, and William is following suit so he can ensure his children have a similar life away from the prying eyes of the public.
There are several local pubs William and Kate frequent in the area, about 120 miles outside of London. The Dabbling Duck, The Crown, and the Kings Head Hotel in Great Bircham are favorites of the couple. The Duke and Duchess were spotted at the Kings Head sharing the grilled sea bream with arrabiata sauce and then shared a vanilla ice cream together, according to the Daily Express newspaper.
Kate has also been spotted with Prince George at the local petting zoo at Snettisham Farm Park and is often seen at the local playground.
“It’s a kind of completely enclosed childhood,” said Nikkhah of what Anmer Hall provides. “And I think that’s what William and Kate, particularly William, wants for his children. He wants to have that incredibly normal life that’s completely private, that’s away from the spotlight.”
Setting up base at Anmer Hall also provides the young family a chance to support Prince William’s new career as an air ambulance helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service, located quite close to Anmer Hall.
The Duchess of Cambridge is expected to spend most of the summer at Anmer Hall getting to know her second child, taking maternity leave to be with Prince George and the baby. After the birth of Prince George, Kate returned to official royal engagements after about five weeks of leave but this time she’s expected to take considerably more leave with her family.
Apartment 1A in Kensington Palace in London will remain the family’s official home.
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