There are few places on Earth as sumptuously, unashamedly ‘royal’ as London. Rightly associated with the Windsors by millions of people worldwide, the UK capital is absolutely teeming with regal sights and sounds, many of which prove enormous magnets for visitors to the city every single day of every single year. Mind you, London’s such a major tourist destination that it’s jam-packed full of all sorts of different things to see and do, Royal or not; so how about trying to fit all your Windsor-related sightseeing into one day of your London trip? Not a bad idea, eh? In which case, here’s a ready-made itinerary you might consider following…
Morning – Buckingham Palace
There really isn’t a more fitting place to start your day dedicated to all-things-Royal than HM The Queen’s official London residence, Buckingham Palace. And especially not at this time of year. That’s because throughout August and September you’ll be able to enjoy the salubrious 18th Century building’s summer opening, which enables members of the public to take a look around not just the spectacular State Rooms, but also an excellent exhibition, the subject of which tends to change every year, but is pretty much always made up of timeless works of art, glorious gowns, fabulous furniture and terrific trinkets from the vast and sumptuous Royal Collection of treasures.
The reason, of course, why you ought to fit Buckingham Palace into the morning of your regal day is because, should you time it right, you’ll be able to catch sight of the Changing of the Guard; the traditional troop movement that sees one squad of the guards that ‘protect’ The Queen replace another in front of the Palace. It takes place at 11.30am; daily this time of year or every other day at other times of the year.
Tower of London
Alternatively, if you fancy something even more historical for your morning, then you can’t beat the Tower of London – it’s also closer than Buckingham Palace to hotels near London City, should you be starting your day from one of them. Originally erected as a fortress in the age of England’s very first medieval kings, it morphed over the centuries into a palace, a prison, a treasure store and, yes, eventually a visitor attraction for those drawn to London Royal sights. Although, it should be pointed out that, on a bloodthirsty note, the Tower’s also played host to some of the most gruesome events in London history, including the torture and beheading of many Royal rivals, rebels and threats to the state. A tour of the place is highly advised to take in all its wonders, especially arguably its biggest highlight, the world-famous Crown Jewels, of course.
After you’re done with Buckingham Palace (or the Tower), you might want to head to the marvellous Hyde Park, the biggest and most glorious of London’s eight Royal Parks. Here, you’ll not only discover the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain near the idyllic Serpentine lake, but also in Kensington Gardens (on the other side of the Serpentine), you’ll find the ornate and imposing, gold-plated Albert Memorial, erected in the late 19th Century on the orders of Queen Victoria as a commemoration of her late husband and consort, Prince Albert.
Lunch and afternoon – Kensington Palace
At the far end of Kensington Gardens is situated another palace – yes, that’s right, Kensington Palace. In particular, you might look to make a beeline for its Orangery, as it’s an ideal place for lunch – especially if you like the sound of an afternoon tea fit for a king or queen (featuring excellent teas, premium wine brands and delicious cakes and pastries). If it’s sunny, be sure to try and find a spot on the terrace; it’ll afford you a splendid view of the palace and its fine gardens.
As your day drifts into the afternoon, it’ll be time to enter Kensington Palace and discover its delights. Home, in years past, to both Princesses Margaret and Diana, it’s now the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Wills and Kate), their children and, in other apartments, Prince Harry. Worth checking out in particular are The King’s and The Queen’s State Apartments, the Luminous Lace light installation and ‘Victoria Revealed’, a permanent exhibition dedicated to – you guessed it – the long-serving, legendary 19th Century monarch, Queen Victoria.
Evening – Fortnum & Mason
Finally, surely the perfect way to spend your evening would be to dine in the beautiful, outstanding environs of the Fountain Restaurant at Fortnum & Mason – The Queen’s official grocer, don’t you know! Established way back in 1707 (just four years after Buckingham Palace opened, in fact), this Piccadilly venue is nowadays a world-renowned, prestigious department store; it actually contains five eateries, but only the aforementioned ground-floor brasserie is open of an evening. And its deluxe menu is designed to spoil diners rotten, featuring such popular specialties as Fortnum’s Welsh Rarebit, in addition to grilled-meat mains, fish dishes and delicious seasonal starters and salads. Moreover, you’ll be serenaded by an acoustic guitarist if you go along of a weekday evening; although this blogger can’t guarantee they’ll include in their repertoire the King Henry VIII-composed Greensleeves – but you might try requesting it, of course!