Everybody would love to get an invite to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding. But “only” about 800 people get to attend — plus the 25 or so ghosts that are rumored to haunt their wedding venue at Windsor Castle. It’s no surprise that rumors about royal ghosts have been making the rounds since the castle has a long and storied history. Hint: It was built in the year 1070 by William the Conquerer.
Below, get all the details on the various ghosts who might have a front-row seat to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding.
1. William of Wykeham
One of the ghosts helped build it. | Wikimedia Commons
- Born: 1320
- Died: 1404
The BBC reports that witnesses have reportedly encountered the ghosts of many historical figures at Windsor Castle. That includes the ghosts of some members of the royal family. But not every spirit spotted at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding venue belongs to a royal. In fact, some witnesses have encountered the ghost of William of Wykeham. William served as a key architect of Windsor Castle.
As the Royal Collection Trust explains, William the Conquerer chose the site for the castle on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground. It took 16 years to build the castle. But various monarchs made many additions and renovations through the generations. William of Wykeham oversaw the reconstruction of the Upper Ward. That involved building an inner gatehouse, adding royal apartments, and constructing internal courts.
Next: This king supposedly wanders the castle, dragging his feet and groaning.
2. King Henry VIII
He can’t seem to leave. | Hulton Archive/Handout/Getty Images
- Born: June 28, 1491
- Died: January 28, 1547
Queen Elizabeth II supposedly loves Windsor Castle. And Reader’s Digest notes that King Henry VIII must have loved it, too. As the publication explains, “he hasn’t seemed to have left even though he died hundreds of years ago.” Numerous witnesses have said they spotted his ghost wandering the rooms of the castle. And the BBC reports that some have heard him dragging his feet in the cloisters and groaning. (Perhaps from the pain of his leg ulcers.)
The king supposedly looks despondent and agitated. And some witnesses have described him as “a large man pacing furiously and shouting loudly.” One possible explanation for his agitation? He did behead two of his wives. And he ordered many other people executed. As Reader’s Digest advises, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry might want to steer clear of this ghost.
Next: This executed queen supposedly weeps at a window.
3. Anne Boleyn
She was executed for false reasons. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
- Born: Circa 1501
- Died: May 19, 1536
Elle reports that another well-known ghost supposedly haunts Windsor Castle. Anne Boleyn became the second wife of King Henry VIII. And she was also one of the aforementioned wives whom he had beheaded. She was executed on false charges of incest, witchcraft, adultery, and conspiracy against the king. (In reality, she gave birth to a stillborn son. The king wanted to remarry to have a son and heir.)
Elle reports that after her execution at the Tower of London, “Anne returned to Windsor.” There, many people say they’ve seen her ghost, weeping in a window of the Dean’s Cloister. According to the College of St. George at Windsor Castle, Elizabeth I — the next ghost Meghan Markle and Prince Harry should watch out for — has appeared at the same window.
Next: Some think this queen haunts the library.
4. Queen Elizabeth I
She has never really left. | Michael Bowles/Getty Images for the Art Fund
- Born: September 7, 1533
- Died: March 24, 1603
Reader’s Digest reports that Queen Elizabeth I, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, ruled Britain for 44 years “and has never really left.” People claim to have spotted the so-called Virgin Queen at Windsor Castle. She reportedly floats from the royal library to an inner room. According to the BBC, witnesses have even heard the sound of her high heels on the floorboards before they see her appear.
In fact, even members of the royal family have supposedly seen her ghost. Both King George III and King Edward VII said they saw a woman dressed in a black gown and identified her as the queen. And King George VI, father to Queen Elizabeth II, said that he saw the ghost of Elizabeth I on eight consecutive nights at the beginning of World War II.
Next: This king was beheaded, but is supposedly seen in one piece.
5. King Charles I
He was beheaded during the civil war. | Rischgitz/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
- Born: November 19, 1600
- Died: January 30, 1649
The BBC reports that King Charles I also numbers among the ghosts who supposedly haunt Windsor Castle. The publication explains that the monarch reportedly haunts a Canon’s house in the castle precincts.
As Royal Central explains, Charles I lost his head during the English Civil War. (That war took place between 1642 and 1651 and resulted in the execution of Charles I and the exiling of Charles II.) But in light of the way that Charles I died, it seems worth noting that his ghost “is seen whole,” according to Royal Central.
Next: This duke supposedly haunts one of the bedrooms at Windsor Castle.
6. Sir George Villiers
He doesn’t seem to have any malicious intent. | Peter Paul Rubens/Wikimedia Commons
- Born: August 28, 1592
- Died: August 23, 1628
Bustle reports that witnesses have reportedly spotted Sir George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, in one of the bedrooms at Windsor Castle. The publication notes that the spirit doesn’t seem to have any malicious intent. And he doesn’t seem to have the same temper as some of the other ghosts.
Interestingly enough, The Guardian reports that Villiers is thought to have been a lover of King James VI and I. (Confused by that monarch’s name? He ruled Scotland as James VI and England and Ireland as James I.) No word on whether the king also haunts Windsor Castle.
Next: Numerous witnesses say they’ve seen the ghost of this king.
7. King George III
He was nicknamed the mad king. | TonyBaggett/iStock/Getty Images
- Born: June 4, 1738
- Died: January 29, 1820
The BBC reports that King George III also reportedly haunts Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding venue. “The sad face of mad King George III is seen peering from the window in the room where he was often detained,” the BBC notes. As Royal Central explains, the king was taken from London to Windsor Castle during the most severe periods of his mental illness. So he “spent many a dark night confined within the walls of Windsor Castle.”
Need to brush up on your British history? The monarch got the name “the mad king” for several reason. As History puts it, “most people remember King George III for two things: 1) losing the American colonies, and 2) losing his mind.” In fact, researchers have suggested, based upon the king’s letters, that he experienced “acute mania,” a hyperactive condition that could resemble the manic phase of bipolar disorder.
Next: This queen supposedly stopped a renovation.
8. Queen Victoria
She was not happy when they tried to move her trees. | Photos.com/Getty Images
- Born: May 24, 1819
- Died: January 22, 1901
King Edward VIII made quite the splash when he kindled a romance with the still-married Wallis Simpson, an American socialite. Reader’s Digest characterizes the scandal as “the reality TV of its time.” Royal Central reports that even though Edward never actually became king, he “quickly set about changing things at Windsor at the request of Wallis Simpson.”
Simpson had ideas for several renovations she wanted to make to the castle and its grounds. Reader’s Digest reports that she wanted to remove trees planted by Edward’s great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Staff set to work. But the trees never came down. The reason why? “The workers were scared away by the clearly unhappy spirit of Queen Victoria waving her arms and moaning loudly,” as Reader’s Digest explains.
Next: This ghost features in several legends about Windsor Castle.
9. Herne the hunter
He was reportedly healed by witchcraft. | George Cruikshank/Wikimedia Commons
Another famous ghost associated with Windsor Castle? Herne the hunter. The BBC reports that witnesses have frequently encountered this ghost in the Great Park. Legend has it that Herne became the favorite huntsman of King Richard II when he saved the monarch from a cornered stag. Herne was mortally wounded. But supposedly, he was healed through witchcraft, which involved tying the stag’s antlers to his head.
The BBC explains that Herne’s subsequent friendship with the king — plus his skill in the field — made his colleagues jealous. So they framed him for theft. He reportedly grew so ashamed that he hung himself on a tree now known as “Herne’s Oak” in the Home Park at Windsor Castle. Numerous witnesses have reported seeing his ghost going across the Great Park.
Next: Nobody knows the real identity of this ghost.
10. A shouting young boy
He has been heard yelling. | kruwt/iStock/Getty Images
The castle where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will say their vows also seems to have a few ghosts who remain nameless. The BBC reports that some witnesses have reported encountering the ghost of a young boy who shouts, “I don’t want to go riding today” in the Deanery.
People have also heard footsteps in the same building, which Bustle notes occupies a space in Windsor Castle’s Middle Ward, just west of the Round Tower. The BBC speculates the same young boy could also be the source of the footsteps. But as Bustle notes, “who he is and why he doesn’t want to go riding have yet to be determined.”
Next: This ghost has been identified as a prisoner, but is only seen by children.
11. A former Royalist prisoner
The prisoner was kept in Norman Tower. | mspoli/iStock/Getty Images
With a name like the “Prison Room,” no wonder this portion of Windsor Castle’s Norman Tower seems to have a few ghosts! As the BBC explains, witnesses have reported encountering the ghost of a former Royalist prisoner in this area of the castle.
The prisoner would have spent time at the castle during the time of the English Civil War. (For the record, the war involved conflicts between Parliamentarians, or Roundheads, and Royalists, or Cavliers, over the English government.) Word has it that while children playing in the tower have seen the Royalist prisoner, adults have only felt him brush past them.
Next: This ghost leads a horse around.
12. A man leading a horse
The kitchen has seen more than one ghost. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ghosts seem to have taken up residence even in such mundane parts of the castle as the kitchens. The BBC reports that in the kitchen in one of the buildings that makes up the horseshoe cloisters, witnesses have seen the ghost of a man leading a horse. The pair reportedly walks straight through the wall. Confused? The phenomenon could be explained by the fact that the cloisters were once the castle’s cavalry stables.
That part of the castle also seems haunted by another ghost. Witnesses have seen a young girl standing by a Christmas tree in the same kitchen. According to St. George’s College at Windsor Castle, the young girl wears blue. And she is sometimes is accompanied by “a white lady.”
Next: This creepy story seems to involve several ghosts — and happened very close to the wedding venue.
13. Phantom statuary
The statues seemed to move. | Peter King/Fox Photos/Getty Images
Another spine-tingling ghost story about Windsor Castle involves some phantom statues. The statues actually appeared right in the vicinity of the castle where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will say their vows. The BBC explains that in 1873, “a night-time visitor to the castle noticed an interesting new statuary group had been erected near St. George’s Chapel: three standing figures, all in black, and a fourth crouching down.”
The statue in the middle held a large sword. And he appeared to be preparing to strike the crouching figure with that sword. The incident doesn’t sound so terrible. But here’s where it gets creepy. The guard to whom the visitor mentioned the artwork knew nothing about it. And when the visitor returned to take another look, it had vanished.
Next: This ghost supposedly belongs to a guard who committed suicide.
14. A young grenadier guard
One of the deceased guards is reportedly haunting the castle. | Leon Neal/Getty Images
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding venue also has its fair share of ghosts with tragic stories. The BBC reports that Windsor Castle’s Long Walk is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a young Grenadier Guard. This particularly guard reportedly shot himself while on duty in the 1920s.
At least two of the guard’s colleagues reported seeing his ghost immediately after his death. As members of the Grenadier Guard, they belonged to an infantry regiment of the British Army that was originally formed in 1656 by the exiled King Charles II.
Next: Witnesses have also heard these at Windsor Castle.
15. Footsteps and bells
Ghostly footsteps can be heard. | Raluca Ioana Cohn/iStock/Getty Images
Not every ghost story about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding venue involves an actual ghost sighting. As the BBC explains, people who have spent time at the castle have reported hearing “ghostly footsteps” on the staircase in the Curfew Tower. St. George’s College at Windsor Castle reports that the basement of the tower once served as a dungeon. That likely sets the scene for you!
On one particularly eerie occasion, the bells in the tower reportedly began to swing all on their own as the temperature in that part of the castle grew “distinctly chilly.” Sounds pretty spooky to us!
Read more: You Can Live With the British Royal Family in Buckingham Palace, But There’s a Catch
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