The History Of The Royal Dairy Farm Began With Prince Albert

When Prince Albert designed the Royal Dairy in the mid-1800s, it was a feast for the eyes and a retreat for the cows. Still, as ornate and modern as it was at the time, the Prince Consort probably never imagined the royal herd resting on waterbeds.

According to BBC Countryfile, Queen Victoria's husband was an enthusiastic follower of agricultural innovation, so when he set out to replace the aging outbuildings installed during the reign of George III, who ruled from 1760 to 1820 (via Royal UK), Prince Albert's aim was to incorporate all the trappings of then-modern farming technology and ensure the daily delivery of fresh cream to the royal households. He had big shoes to fill.

Known as Farmer George because of his keen interest in agriculture, King George III's Royal Dairy was part of an agricultural complex established in 1791. In addition to the dairy, the property also included two working farms. According to Royal Central, George III was a hands-on overseer of the farm. He rose at 6 a.m. daily to stroll the property and visit with the workers.

Located on the grounds at Windsor Home Park adjacent to Windsor Castle and just east of Frogmore Cottage, Prince Albert's take on the Royal Dairy is a testament to his propensity for combining form and function. According to BBC Countryfile, the ornate decor of the Renaissance-style structure belies its functionality.

Farm living is the place to be

At first glance, the elaborate interior looks more like an exclusive spa than a functioning dairy. An intricate tile mosaic adorns the walls, floors, ceiling, and columns, and three fountains — a mermaid, a merman, and a woman holding a jug — provide a constant supply of cool water. According to BBC Countryfile, decorative garnishes serve a practical purpose. Milk, collected daily, would be poured into settling pans set atop marble trestle tables. Water from the fountains flowed through channels under the marble tables to keep the surfaces — and the settling pans — cool.

In the spirit of Prince Albert's love of innovation, Royal Dairy continues to employ cutting-edge farming technology. According to Dairy Herd, 21st-century comforts include expanded winter housing for the cows. BBC Countryfile mentions a robotic milking mechanism, in addition to robotic sweepers. Dairy Herd reports the farm is currently home to about 200 registered Jersey cows, some of which, according to The Bull Vine, are descended from Queen Victoria's original herd.

And yes, according to BBC Countryfile, the royal herd slumbers atop waterbeds. "Basically they're a water pillow, so as the cow lies down, it pushes underneath the pressure points, where the cows lie, and the cow ends up floating," farm manager, Mark Osman, told BBC Countryfile in 2017.