Anmer Hall was a gift from the Queen for Kate and Prince William's 2011 wedding

By Stephanie Petit
Updated January 07, 2021 06:58 PM
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Anmer Hall
| Credit: BBC

Kate MiddletonPrince William and their three children — Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2 — left London amid the most recent coronavirus lockdown in the U.K. for their Sandringham country estate, Anmer Hall. Located about 110 miles north of London in Norfolk, their second home — a gift from Queen Eliazbeth for the royal couple’s 2011 wedding — is often where the family of five escape to during school breaks, weekends and holidays.

Kate said in a podcast earlier this year that her favorite times with her family are "outside in the countryside and we’re all filthy dirty" — and Anmer Hall is the perfect place for some messy fun. During breaks from homeschooling, George and Charlotte are encouraged to spend time outdoors. Kate has also shared that Prince Louis "loves smelling flowers" and “enjoys being outside.”

Credit: BBC

The country home, where Kate is said to feel most at home, has also served as a favorite photoshoot spot. In addition to their family portrait from their 2018 Christmas card, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have had their annual birthday photos shot by mom Kate at Anmer Hall.

"This part of Norfolk is just very quiet and peaceful," local B&B owner Marie Therese Viney previously told PEOPLE. "It is the perfect place to raise a family."

Anmer Hall
| Credit: Alpha Press

When Kate and William inherited the 10-bedroom home, the Duchess of Cambridge opted to take on the interior decorating.

"Instead of hiring a royal interior designer, she wants to furnish it in her own style, because she wants this to be her own family home," Simon Knight, owner of Knights Oriental Rugs in Henley-on-Thames, told PEOPLE.

"She was looking for things for bedrooms," he added, "so she wanted softer pastel shades rather than strong colors."

In addition to the considerable renovation, including a complete retiling of the roof, the couple added a sunlit garden room to one side of the house with a pergola-covered patio for extra privacy and protection from the notorious British weather.

To increase the family's privacy further, extra trees were planted and the driveway was rerouted so the public entrance near St. Mary’s Church was turned into a private entrance accessible only by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Anmer Hall
| Credit: Indigo/Getty

The tennis lovers — they're regulars at Wimbledon! — also upgraded the tennis court at Anmer Hall. According to an application filed by officials at Sandringham Estate, a new court was made of AstroTurf and bordered by copper beach hedge, with new oak trees proposed to be planted nearby.

The vast Georgian mansion also has an outdoor swimming pool and is surrounded by acres of parkland of the Queen’s Sandringham estate – perfect for raising children away from the hubbub of William and Kate’s Apartment 1a at Kensington Palace in the heart of London.

"It's like a fancy farmhouse,” someone familiar with the house told PEOPLE. "It isn’t grandiose. But it's a great, friendly family environment."

An insider previously told PEOPLE that guests at Anmer Hall are typically greeted by Kate herself at the door.

"There was no formality at all," said the insider at the time. "It really was like any other family sitting down to lunch, with George and Charlotte eating their homemade food in their high chairs and toddling around with their toys."

And although they have plenty of help from nanny Maria Turrion Borrallo, it’s often just the family at home.

“You’d think that Kate and William would have an army of staff to help them out, but it really was just them and the children,” noted the insider.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
| Credit: BBC

Kate and Prince William have kept busy with their royal work despite social distancing guidelines thanks to video communication. They took part in their first-ever royal engagement via video call earlier this month, chatting with a school in northern England where the kids of essential workers — such as healthcare staff and emergency services members — are being cared for amid the coronavirus pandemic. During the call, the royals met staff and children — and even got to see their arts and crafts projects for Easter.

The royal couple also supported charitable organizations by checking in via phone and letters. They also narrated a film that aims to help people access expert advice on mental health and well-being during the coronavirus crisis.

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And when Prince George and Princess Charlotte aren't completing their schoolwork, they're having plenty of fun along with Prince Louis.

"The children have got such stamina, I don’t know how," Kate said in an interview with the BBC. "Honestly, you get to the end of the day and you write down the list of all the things that you’ve done in that day. So, you pitch a tent, take the tent down again, cook, bake. You get to the end of the day — they have had a lovely time — but it is amazing how much you can cram into one day, that's for sure."