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Berkshire (play /ˈbɑrkʃə/ or /ˈbɑrkʃɪə/, abbreviated Berks) is a historic county in the South East of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1958, and letters patent issued confirming this in 1974.[1]

Berkshire borders the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and Hampshire, and is usually regarded as one of the home counties. Under boundary changes in 1995, it also acquired a boundary with Greater London.[2]

Historically the county town was Abingdon, but in 1867 the town of Reading – by then much larger – superseded Abingdon in this role.[3] In 1974 local government reorganisation moved Abingdon and several other north-west Berkshire towns into Oxfordshire.[4] A later reorganisation, in 1998, abolished Berkshire County Council, although retaining Berkshire as a ceremonial county.[4] The highest tier of local government in Berkshire are now the unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham.

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