Political history meets royal life, deep in the heart of Hillsborough Castle
Updated 2 July. Following guidance from the government, outdoor spaces at Hillsborough Castle are now open Thursday-Sunday. The castle will re-open 30 July. Please read our visit information.
This splendid room was originally the Drawing Room of the house, and has been the setting for historic political meetings since the 1970s.
It was in this room that Her Majesty The Queen met President Mary McAleese of Ireland in 2005 – the first time that the two heads of state had met on the island of Ireland.
Royal visitors would have entered the gardens through the French window on the right; in the 1960s it had to be lowered so that the petite Princess Margaret could step over comfortably!
Today, the walls are covered in striking red silk damask fabric and a collection of art, which includes works by Antony van Dyck, Sir Joshua Reynolds and William Hogarth.
As you admire the many pieces of artwork in this room, take a moment to admire the 40 miniature portraits of English sovereigns, and several of their consorts, which span the walls.
Prince Albert commissioned this collection, named the Bone Miniatures, in 1843. Albert and Queen Victoria used to place the portraits on the floor to test each other’s knowledge of the family tree.
The collection is named after its creators, Henry Bone and his son Henry Pierce Bone.
The round table was regarded as a key element to the function of the room as a place for political discussions and negotiations.
The shape of the table avoids any hierarchy of 'top and lower' seating, meaning that no one can be placed at the 'head' of the table. This is evocative of the legendary Arthurian Round Table.
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