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‘The Windsor Castle Fire: The Untold Story’ (2023) Story Recap And Ending, Explained

On April 22, 2023, Channel 4 screened “The Windsor Castle Fire: The Untold Story” a documentary that revolves around the catastrophic fire that broke out in Windsor Castle on November 20, 1992. It showcases the eyewitness accounts of the firefighters who were there to save one of the oldest inhabited castles.

The documentary begins with the Fire and Rescue taking a call from Windsor Castle about a fire breakout in Private Chapel, and horrific images of the engulfing fire are shown. Dean Lansdell (apprentice specialist decorator) remembers it being a cold day and the state dining room ceiling being re-guided by a team. Wesley Kerr (Royal Correspondent) talks about the continuous renewal and repair of old buildings and how such activity was going on at Windsor Castle. Charles Anson (Press Secretary of the Queen) explains how the Queen mostly used to spend her weekends at Windsor Castle when she was in London. Dean Lansdell heard a muffled noise from one of the rooms, went to check, and found a curtain on fire in the Royal Chapel.

The cause of the fire was a high-power spotlight placed too close to the curtain, and the fire was spreading rapidly. Mick Koza (sub-officer) thought that it was another exercise drill, but on seeing the smoke coming out of the roof of Windsor Castle, he knew they had a job. Within 8 minutes, the whole Private Chapel was on fire, threatening almost 1000 rooms of the castle. After reaching the scene and assessing the situation, Mick Koza asked for 10 fire engines. In the position they were in, they could not stop the fire immediately, so they decided to contain it and prevent it from spreading. When two firemen were on the hydraulic platform to reach the fire to contain it from the outside, a window suddenly blew out, but they continued their job. Jennie Bond (Royal Correspondent), after hearing the news, made her way for the castle and believed it would be extinguished by the firefighter until she reached there, but saw gushes of smoke from 2–3 miles away.

30 minutes after the fire alarm was raised, 20 fire engines and around 100 firemen were present at Windsor Castle to tackle the fire. Philip Knight (firefighter) talks about the mental preparation while Neil Carter (firefighter) informs that they traveled up to St. George’s Hall to start combating the fire. There was a void in the false ceiling that most people did not know about, through which it came down behind the backs of the firefighters. The firefighters took shelter in one of the arches, and there was so much smoke that they had to withdraw from the hall. Mike Green (Senior Divisional Officer) tells how an incident control room was set up and all the surrounding counties’ fire stations were put on alert. Les Hawksfield (firefighter) and Jennie Bond then tell how Prince Andrew was an integral part of the initial stages of the operation and has been doing some research work in the castle. In just under 2 hours, the fire destroyed the Private Chapel, St. George’s Hall, and several small rooms and was advancing towards the Queen’s private chambers, which were full of priceless possessions. Whistles started to blow around, which meant evacuation was underway, and they saw one firefighter struck inside the rubble. The fire engine count went up to 35, and there were over 200 firefighters.

Armies from nearby postings, officers, and volunteers were engaged in bringing the artwork outside. After 4 hours, when the fire had destroyed many more rooms, the queen arrived at the entrance of the castle and looked gloomy. The Queen was led to her private chamber in the burning castle, where she could collect the items she would need. It is also mentioned that 1992 was a year of tragedy, with several incidents involving the Royal Family. The firefighter decided to use fire breaks tactically to make a fire barrier and stop its spread. It had been 5 hours since they were battling the fire, and the firefighters then started to feel exhausted. It is quite remarkable how few things were lost in the fire, and the Queen had already returned to Buckingham Palace. In the early hours of November 21, 1992, the flames were finally extinguished. 115 rooms had been destroyed, costing around £56 million. Criticism began when it was announced by the Home Secretary that Windsor Castle would be repaired with taxpayer money. But the Queen, with her advisors, came up with a plan that Buckingham Palace would be open to the public for a period of 5 years, and the revenue collected on the tickets for the visit would be able to amass the cost of the repair. It was Prince Philip who was in charge of the restoration, and within 5 years, the castle was brought back to its previous glory.

‘The Windsor Castle Fire: The Untold Story’ Ending

Etching detailed accounts of what really went down during the fire incident at Windsor Castle, the documentary “The Windsor Castle Fire: The Untold Story” highlights some key points that changed the public’s relationship with the monarchy and how the oldest inhabited building rose like a phoenix from its ashes.

Sandhi Das
Sandhi Das
Sandhi is a freelance content writer and a technology enthusiast. He has written on multiple topics and worked on multiple projects. Other than writing, he is interested in art, sports, and movies.


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