If you’re planning a short break in London there will undoubtedly be a lot of attractions vying for your attention. However, given the recent excitement around royal weddings, pregnancies, and Jubilee celebrations, nothing can beat a royal tour of the city. These attractions make for a perfect romantic trip for two or a perhaps a quick break in the city with the family. Here are some of the royal sights that simply have to be on your to do list.
No Royal Tour of London is complete without a visit to Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London home. While the Palace is only open to visitors during the summer when the Queen is on holiday, you can see the ‘Changing the Guard Ceremony’ all year (there’s even an official smartphone app available). If you’re lucky enough to take a peek inside this summer you’ll see magnificent artworks by the likes of Rembrandt and Canaletto adorning spectacularly lavish rooms as well as a special exhibition on the Queen’s Coronation (which was way back in 1953), that includes a look at her Coronation Dress and Coronation Robe.
The Royal Mews
While enjoying sights at Buckingham Palace don’t forget to give the Royal Mews a closer look. At these working stables you’ll find the royal collection of carriages that you might have already seen on television during the past years for the State Opening of Parliament, Jubilee celebrations, or perhaps even a royal wedding. Seen in the flesh, these coaches and carriages are truly magnificent, and while you don’t get to take a ride as part of the tour, you can be guaranteed a trip to remember anyway. The kids will love an afternoon here, so if you are looking for something different to do during your family trip, don’t forget the royal stables!
Tower of London
The Tower of London is absolutely brimming with history. It is here that Queen Mary I imprisoned her sister, the future Queen Elizabeth I, it is here that Guy Fawkes was tortured until he confessed to a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and it is here that King Henry VIII had two of his wives executed. Amongst the murders, imprisonments, and tortures to learn about on a visit to the Tower, there is also exquisite beauty to be found, such as the Crown Jewels.
Other Royal Bits & Bobs…
Madame Tussauds has a large collection of waxwork royals, while the National Portrait Gallery is home to many official royal portraits, including the first of the Duchess of Cambridge. If you’re willing to get out of central London the former home of King Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace, offers a glimpse at what royal life in Tudor times was like, unsurprisingly, a truly glamorous and decadent affair.
Something else well worth investigating, for Londoners and visitors alike, are the multitude of gorgeous Royal Parks. They are archaic plots of land originally owned by the English monarchy and used for the recreation (mostly hunting) of the Royal Family. The largest is Richmond Park in the South West, a rich and varied reserve, blossoming with an exciting range of plants and trees and home to one of the largest herds of deer in the country. Spending an afternoon here feels like such a departure from he capital, you could easily be on a break in the countryside. For a more ‘urban feel,’ try Regent’s Park, located in the centre, a truly beautiful space with fountains, topiary and plenty of attractive plants.
When visiting London, you really should pop into some of the aforementioned royal sites. The Queen is perhaps the most famous face in the world, while the royal family are arguable still England’s greatest economic and cultural export.
Pop to these heritage sites to understand the family’s history and see what has influenced them into becoming the great national ambassadors that they are today.