Ruth Brindle enjoys the second part of her ‘Royal Progress’ on a day out to Windsor Castle.

Windsor is the longest continually occupied castle in the world.

For 1,000 years it has been home to monarchs, and our much-loved Queen Elizabeth II still calls this awe-inspiring place her home. While Buckingham Place is her place of work, Windsor is where she comes at the weekend and for special events.

When I visited, it was exciting to see her standard flying above the Round Tower, which signified she was in residence. I later learned there was to be a charity event for a cause supported by the Duke of Edinburgh and dinner settings were being prepared for patrons paying thousands of pounds for the privilege of attending.

On taking the tour around the castle and, in particular, the State Apartments, the full weight of our royal history is brought home in spectacular fashion.

To take a quick history lesson, the castle was built in the 11th Century by William the Conquerer and has since been home to 39 monarchs. But most influential on the way it looks now and how it has been enriched over the centuries is due to the enthusiasm of first King Charles II (r.1660-85) and George IV (r.1820-30). The former was keen to outdo his cousin, Louis XIV’s glittering palace at Versailles in France. The State Apartments became the grandest in England, with painted ceilings by Antonio Verrio and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.

George IV added other features, including the wondrous Waterloo Chamber celebrating the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815.

As you wander from room to room taking in the largest number of treasures in the Royal Collection, it’s fascinating to note each monarch’s personal taste reflected in works of art, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto, furniture, tapestries, armory and porcelain. Many of the works of art are still in the historic settings for which they were first collected or commissioned by the Kings and Queens who have lived at Windsor.

Today it’s hard to realise that on November 20,1992 more than 100 rooms at the castle were damaged by fire, such is the exquisite recreation of the architectural details.

The restorations show that each monarch can and does leave their mark on the castle. The Queen has now approved £27 million of renovations, including the landmark’s first ever café to be built in a 14th Century undercroft used originally as a cellar and larder.

Like me, I’m sure the 1.3 million visitors a year will be pleased about that. The work is due to be completed by the end of 2018, but the castle will remain open.

There is so much to see, but, for me, it is the reminder that while this is a castle and part of the nation’s heritage, it is also a home to a family.

The magnificent St George’s Chapel is the spiritual home to the Order of the Garter, the senior order of British Chivalry. It holds the tombs of ten sovereigns, including Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, and Charles I. But it was poignant to note that the Queen’s parents are also buried here and it is where the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret’s ashes are interred.

One of the most popular treasures at the castle is Queen Mary’s dolls’ house, a gift from the nation, designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and built between 1921-1924.

It is a perfect reproduction of a royal household in miniature scale and a record of Edwardian life, right down to electricity, working plumbing (even flushing toilets), paintings, and, in the library, original works by leading writers of the day. The garden is designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

Queen Mary even added some of her own touches, including a model of a mouse, made by Faberge – who else?

The audio tour is excellent and now is a fitting time to take a walk through such a rich and proud history. I certainly learned a lot.

Details: Your ticket to the Castle includes entry to a special exhibition, Shakespeare in the Royal Library, until January 1, 2017, and Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe from September 17, 2016 –January 8, 2017. Gift aid your entry ticket to gain free admission for a year.

Ruth visited as part of a two-night luxury package offered by St Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster: 020 7222 7888,