According to PEOPLE, the 10-bedroom home located on the grounds of Windsor Castle in Berkshire was once home to Abdul Karim, the first Indian member of the royal household and Queen Victoria’s aide. The home, along with the cottages Osbourne on the Isle of Wight and Karim Cottage at Balmoral in Scotland, had been gifted to him by the Queen.
Karim and the late Queen had grown close, with the Queen learning Urdu from him and inviting him to her homes in Scotland, the Isle of Wight, and at Windsor to talk. She also brought European royals to Frogmore Cottage to enjoy tea with Karim and his wife, Khadija.
“She would bring European royalty with her to visit,” Shrabani Basu, whose 2010 book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant inspired the film starring Judi Dench in 2017, told the outlet. “They would often go there for tea and meet the munshi and his wife. Her diaries are full of mentions of meeting the Munshi and his wife for tea.”
The close nature of their relationship was not accepted by all members of the Queen’s family and the court, however, and following her 1901 burial at the Royal Mausoleum, a group of senior royals and courtiers cast a dark shadow on Karim’s home when they entered Frogmore Cottage and burned his letters from Victoria just hours after she was laid to rest.
“It was early morning and just hours after her funeral. [Queen] Alexandra and Princess Beatrice were standing there and a lot of guards, and they ordered a raid on his house and all of his letters were taken and burned,” Basu said. “t was a heartbreaking moment in Abdul’s life. It was a bit of dark history.”
Eventually, after 10-years of calling Frogmore Cottage home, Karim was sent back to Agra, India following Victoria’s death, and the home was later converted into four separate staff quarters.
Basu added that “there is a certain poignancy about them [Harry and Markle] choosing Frogmore Cottage,” due to the parallels between Markle and Karim. Just as Karim had been the first Indian member of the royal household, Markle is the first mixed-race woman to marry into the royal family.
Kensington Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be moving out of Kensington Palace earlier this week, with the move expected to come sometime before they welcome their first child together in spring of 2019. Although “tension” between the royal couple and Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton have been blamed for the change in location, no official reasoning for the move has been given by the Palace.