London’s top royal attractions
The UK is in mourning following the death of the Queen at Balmoral and queues of up to five miles are expected in London over the coming week as people flock to Westminster Hall to pay their respects.
Flags are flying from Royal residences and government buildings and a memorial flower garden in Green Park is without doubt a tribute to the strength of emotion felt throughout the country and the world. Buckingham Palace is, of course, seen as the principal royal attraction in London but for anyone exploring on foot, we’d also recommend stopping by any of the following top royal attractions.
As one of the few working royal palaces remaining today, iconic Buckingham Palace tops the list of royal places to visit in London. During the summer months, visit the 19 magnificent State Rooms before taking a guided tour of the garden with its 3-acre lake, Rose Garden and Palace tennis court. Tickets from the Royal Collection.
Changing of the Guard
There’s something endlessly fascinating about the Changing of the Guard, no matter how many times you’ve seen it! Actually, our favourite place to catch a glimpse of this dazzling British pageantry is at Wellington Barracks rather than Buckingham Palace. If you get there for around 10.15am, you’ll catch sight of the New Guard lining up for inspection before they proceed up Birdcage Walk to the Palace.
After that, make tracks for Hyde Park or St James’s Park, both a welcome oasis in the heart of London. Bordering the Mall and Horse Guards Parade, St James’s Park is awash with colourful flower beds. The park is also home to several very well-fed pelicans.
In fact, London has no fewer than 8 Royal Parks so there’s plenty of green space in the capital to relax when you need a break from sightseeing. Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks and one of our favourites. Hire bikes or walk across acres of wide open spaces inhabited by herds of Red and Fallow deer. Top spot for a picnic? Find a shady lawn in the Isabella Plantation woodland gardens.
The childhood home of Queen Victoria is the official residence of William and Kate, now the Prince and Princess of Wales, and several other members of the royal family. Several areas of Kensington Palace – the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments – are open to the public and regularly feature exhibitions. Step also into the landscaped Palace Gardens and into Kensington Gardens. Tickets to Kensington Palace from £20.00 with free entry to the gardens.
The Tower of London
Retreat into another world behind the drawbridge of the Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror to protect London. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has variously been a royal palace, a prison and a treasure vault. Explore its astonishing history and see the dazzling Crown Jewels and the iconic Beefeaters. The massive Wakefield Tower is home to the famous ravens. Tickets to the Tower of London from £29.90.
Hampton Court Palace
Set on the outskirts of London in Surrey, Hampton Court Palace is a fabulous family day out. Visit the State Apartments at Henry VIII’s favourite royal palace, where highlights include the extraordinary medieval Great Hall and the kitchens. The Chocolate Kitchen is the only royal chocolate kitchen in Britain. Visiting with children? Leave plenty of time to explore the garden, with its famous maze and the Magic Garden. Tickets to Hampton Court from £26.10pp or £45.60 for a family.