These haunted royal palaces in England and Scotland have a lengthy and stormy histories, so it’s hardly surprising that ghosts have been seen there.
Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace is the official London home of the British monarchy, although few are aware of the palace’s haunted past.
Some people claim to have seen the phantom of a monk who died in a punishment cell at the monastery that originally stood where Buckingham Palace stands now. He is said to be wearing a brown hood.
The mysterious death of King Edward VII’s confidential secretary, Major John Gwynne, also occurred in Buckingham Palace.
Following widespread backlash to the news that he had divorced his wife, Gwynne allegedly took his own life in a royal office.
Employees of the palace have reported hearing a single gunshot originate from the building’s central office.
Windsor Castle, Buckinghamshire
Many ghost sightings at Windsor Castle have been attributed to King George III, who was locked up there as his mental health deteriorated.
Although reports of ghosts at Windsor Castle, the biggest inhabited castle in the world, might be dismissed as urban legend, none can dispute the castle’s eerie past.
Ten British kings, including many who met violent ends like beheading or poisoning, are buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Even more chilling, the BBC reports that following King George III’s decline in mental health, he was confined at Windsor Castle until his death, and that his ghost has been seen staring out the window of the chamber where he was held.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
Now the official residence of the monarchy in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse has a dark, bloody history.
Mary, Queen of Scots spent most of her life inside the palace walls, during which time her personal secretary, David Rizzio, was murdered in her private apartments in 1566.
Mary’s husband, Lord Darnley, was said to have disagreed with Rizzio’s power over the Queen, and thus orchestrated the assassination which was carried out with more than 70 other men. Mary attempted to stop the attack but, being heavily pregnant, was restrained while it was carried out. She later reported that Rizzio was stabbed 56 times.
About half a mile away, on 10 February 1567, Lord Darnley was found dead after his living quarters were destroyed by an explosion. Lord Darnley’s death still remains unsolved, though many suspect Queen Mary and her third and final husband, the Earl of Bothwell, had a part in it.
Some people now think that Rizzio’s ghost haunts the building to this day.
Agnes Sampson, said to be a witch, is another apparition said to haunt the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the autumn of 1590, a man called Gillis Duncan falsely accused Agnes of witchcraft and had her arrested on the basis of his suspicions and charges alone, without any proof to back them up.
Agnes was subsequently tortured until she pleaded guilty on 28 January 1591, and was condemned to death. Agnes’s ghost has been seen several times after her death; she seems to be nude and has the wounds of her torment.
Hampton Court Palace, London
Many people have reported seeing ghosts at Hampton Court, including two of Henry VIII’s former wives.
Historic Royal Palaces, the nonprofit that oversees Hampton Court, claims that on her son’s birthday, Jane Seymour, who died giving birth there in 1537, makes an appearance.
The palace is also said to be haunted by Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife. She was detained at Hampton Court on charges of adultery and treason. She evaded capture by running down a hall while pleading with the king for mercy before being recaptured and killed in the Tower of London.
The hall is now known as the Haunted Gallery due to reports of visitors hearing her cries.
Read more the ghosts of Henry VIII’s wives here.
Sybil Penn, a former royal attendant who nursed both Edward VI and a young Queen Elizabeth I, is said to haunt the building.
Penn is said to have contracted smallpox while tending to Queen Elizabeth I, who was ill with the virus.
It is said that her ghost, now known as the “Grey Lady,” haunts the castle.
Sandringham House, Norfolk
Employees at Sandringham House believe that one of the bedrooms on the ground floor of the Norfolk property is so haunted that no one would dare set foot in there while they were on the clock.
The Royal Family traditionally spends Christmas at Sandringham House, which has a reputation for being a little spooky.
The Mirror once reported that workers were reportedly apprehensive to perform a ceremony with the Queen in one of the downstairs rooms where George VI stayed in the months leading up to his death.
Some of the servants had reported that the chamber was haunted and that they did not want to work in there because of the ghosts.
The service in 2000 was held by a local clergyman and attended by the Queen, the Queen Mother and the Queen Mother’s lady-in-waiting Prue Penn.
Apparently, the parson proceeded from room to room and did actually sense some type of restlessness in one of them. The congregation of three took Holy Communion and special prayers were prayed for the repose of the King’s soul in the chamber in which he died.
The clergyman remarked that the stifling or unpleasant mood may have been because of Princess Diana. He said he had experienced such things previously when someone died a horrible death.
Tower of London
The Tower of London on the River Thames is said to be especially haunted because of its deadly history. The property is no longer used as a royal residence but many staff and visitors still feel a sense of the supernatural within its ancient stone walls.
The murder of King Henry VI in his private chapel in the Tower of London in 1471 is one of the most notorious killings in history. Having “lost his wits, his two kingdoms and his only son”, Henry died in the Tower during the night of 21 May, possibly killed on the orders of King Edward IV.
After disappearing in 1483, Edward IV’s two sons were likewise likely killed inside the Tower of London. Some speculate that their uncle, Richard III, who wanted to be king and considered the boys as a danger strangled them in their sleep.
Two of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, met their ends in the tower.
Others, mostly high-level criminals and enemies of the state, were also put to death there during the course of history.
You can read about the many hauntings in the Tower of London in 16 Spookiest Tower of London Ghosts and Hauntings.
Have you seen a ghost in any of these haunted royal palaces? Tell us about them in the comments section below!