Our one-page guide to Royal London
by Kelly Henderson (@kellythekiwi)
Do you want to find out more about London’s royal history? Here are my tips for your visit to Royal London.
#1 Buckingham Palace Summer Opening
Every summer curious tourists (and London locals) are given the chance to admire the spectacular that is the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace. These rooms are where the Queen and other members of the Royal Family meet and entertain guests. Depending on your ticket type you can also visit the Royal Mews (the department that provides the road transport for the Royal Family by both horse-drawn carriage and motor car), the Queen’s Gallery and the beautiful gardens. The special exhibition this year is in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Artworks are used to recreate the atmosphere of the occasion and other objects on display include the Queen’s white satin dress, the Queen’s Robe of Estate and the Diamond Diadem, which the Queen is pictured wearing on postage stamps.
#2 Changing of the Guard
A ‘must see’ for every visitor to London is the Changing of the Guard (or Guard Mounting) ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. Changing of the Guard is the process of the new guard exchanging duty with the old guard that is looking after Buckingham and St James’s Palaces. The ceremony is accompanied by a Guards band and is set to music ranging from traditional marches to songs from musicals and well-known pop songs. The actual Guard Mounting takes place at 11:30am everyday (alternate days during the winter) but the bands start at 11:15am. You need to get there A LOT earlier than this if you want to see anything though!
#3 Tower of London
If you are going to splurge on one outing in London then I recommend visiting the Tower of London. Join a Yeoman Warder tour and be entertained by the stories of the gruesome history of the Tower – the imprisonments, treachery and executions. Visit the execution site of Anne Boleyn, find out what life was like as a prisoner in the tower and learn about the Royal Mint. No visit to the Tower would be complete without viewing the jewel collection of every girl’s dreams – the Crown Jewels. The most powerful and dazzling symbols of the British monarchy include the Imperial State Crown, the Coronation Spoon and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. Prepare to be amazed!
Other places in London that you might be interested in visiting on your Royal trail could be:
- The Royal Observatory, Greenwich – The home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Prime Meridian. This marks the official starting point for each day, year and millennium and divides the East and West Hemispheres of the earth – just like the Equator does to the North and South.
- Horse Guards Parade – Traditionally, this was the entrance to the Royal Palaces and now the Parade ground is the setting for military ceremonies throughout the year. It is still guarded by mounted sentries from the Queen’s Household Cavalry and a Changing of the Guard takes place here every morning at 11am (10am on Sundays). Make sure to have your photo take with one of the guards as you pass along Whitehall!
- Kensington Palace – Set in the midst of Kensington Gardens is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. A visit here includes a tour of the King and Queen’s State Apartments and Fashion Rules – an exhibition of dresses from the collections of HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. Don’t forget to take a look at the breath-taking light piece at the centre of the palace made of almost 12,000 Swarovski crystals.
Let yourself be swept away by the history, traditions and beauty of the Royal family in London. There are many more places to visit if you have the time but I think that this is a good starting point!
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