Travel

7 must-see regal sites in London

Author: Canadian Living

Travel

7 must-see regal sites in London

Palaces and royal residences where past and present royalty have frolicked are a central part of visiting London, England. Not only can you wander through palatial landmarks, but you can also sleep and eat like royalty as you gad about Britain's biggest city. Here are seven ways to get down and regal in London.

1. Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Her Majesty The Queen. King George III purchased it in 1761 as a "comfortable family home" for his wife. Later, King George IV remade it into a pied-à-terre. Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to take up official residence at Buckingham Palace in July 1837. Summer tours (when the Queen is on holiday) are best, as you can amble through the 19 state rooms bedecked with Rembrandts and Rubens. The palace has the largest private garden in all of London. Don't miss the Changing of the Guards, which takes place daily at 11:30 a.m. from May to July, and on alternate days the rest of the year.

Did you know?
When the Queen is in residence, there are four sentries at the front of the building, and only two when she's away.

For more info: royalcollection.org.uk

2. Westminster Abbey, a stunning Gothic structure, has been the site of 38 coronations, beginning with William the Conqueror in 1066 and the most recent being that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. And no fewer than 17 monarchs are buried here. You can hunt for burial markers in every nook and cranny of the Abbey, which has also been a popular venue for royal weddings. Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh got hitched here, as did Prince Anne (to Captain Mark Phillips – it didn’t last), Prince Andrew (to Fergie) and (as of April 2011) Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Did you know?
Scores of non-Royals are interred here, including Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Laurence Olivier and actress Sybil Thorndike.

For more info: westminster-abbey.org

3. Kensington Palace was the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria. Various members of the Royal Family still have offices and private apartments here (some at subsidized rent!). It's where the late Princess Margaret lived. Kensington Gardens, now designated a Royal Park, is just west of London's Hyde Park and comprises more than 100 hectares.

Did you know? Diana, The Princess of Wales lived at Apartment 8 Kensington Palace from the time she married until her death in 1997.

For more info: hrp.org.uk/kensingtonpalace


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4. The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror in the early 1080s, and has functioned as a fortress, palace and prison. Most visit the Tower in order to see the Crown Jewels – there are 23,578 on view. Yeoman Warders, better known as "Beefeaters," entertain and titillate as they escort visitors through the grounds. You'll even get a peek at Henry VIII's armour and spine-chilling instruments of torture. Many of those who lost their heads here, including Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas More, are buried in Tower Green.

Did you know?
Anne Boleyn was given special dispensation to be beheaded by an expert French swordsman, who would do the job quickly and expertly.

For more info: hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon

5. Windsor Castle,
built 900 years ago, is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, and it's an official residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Lavishly-furnished state apartments are often open to the public (unless the Royals are in residence), and the gardens are breath taking. You'll find the tomb of Henry VIII here in St George's Chapel. The castle, nestled in the picturesque English countryside, is a 30-minute train ride from Paddington Station.

Did you know?
Windsor Castle was a refuge for the Royal family during the bombing of London during the World War II and is the Queen's preferred weekend home.

For more info: royalcollection.org.uk

6. The Langham Hotel's Palm Court. Located on Regent Street, The Langham Hotel was opened in 1865 by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales (later His Majesty King Edward VII). The Langham has long been regarded as "the birthplace of the afternoon tea tradition." Picture dainty finger sandwiches, Scottish salmon poached in pink Champagne, scones, cakes and cute little tubs of Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Did you know?
For the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Palm Court created a special "Tea Royale," which included an aptly named Westminster Abbey chocolate cake.

For more info: palm-court.co.uk

7. The Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Walk. This seven-mile walk crosses St. James's Park, Hyde Park, Clarence House, Kensington Gardens and other sites associated with the late Princess Diana. Visit the website to download a Memorial Walk route.

Did you know?
There is a special Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens in honour of Lady Di's fondness for children.


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7 must-see regal sites in London

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