City breaks, Europe, Family, Tours

The UK has a long and rich royal history which fascinates residents and visitors alike. With recent celebrations such as the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge being enjoyed the world over, the royal family continue to be a draw. Here are just a few of the working royal homes open to the public.

Current Royal Residences in London

The Queens London residence, Buckingham Palace sits at the top of the Mall. The palace has been home to the monarch since 1837 and its state rooms are the heart of the administrative centre for the royal family. These state rooms open once a year in late July for a few weeks for a fascinating tour.

The Buckingham Palace Royal Mews are also open to the public from February to November, though they are closed for state occasions. These fine working stables are responsible for all the formal travel needs of the royal family and other dignitaries during state occasions, royal weddings and funerals.

If you would like to see some of the royal collection of art you can visit the Queens Gallery at the palace all year round.

Clarence House

Nearby, on the Mall, and also open for visits is Clarence House, former home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Here you can tour the ground floor rooms set out as they were during the Queen Mother’s residence and containing many personal treasures of her family Bowes-Lyon’s,

Kensington Palace

A short journey away is Kensington Palace within Kensington Gardens at the east side of Hyde Park. The Palace Gardens were first opened to the public by Queen Victoria. The Palace is perhaps best known today as the London residence of Diana, Princess of Wales  Thousand of people brought a sea of floral tributes as she lay in rest the night before her funeral as an impromptu candle lit vigil took place.  It is the intention for her son the Duke of Cambridge and his wife to have their official London residence there,.Three of the Queens cousins also live in the palace.

There are many attractions open to the public including King George II state apartments, Queen Mary II State Apartments and a brilliant exhibition about Queen Victoria.

The Palace’s nearest Tube is High Street Kensington, a 15 minute walk away.

For more information on travelling to any of the London attractions see the Transport for London Website

Windsor Castle

In Berkshire is the sprawling Windsor Castle. Originally a motte and bailey fort built by William the Conqueror the castle has since been favoured and built on by many monarchs. Windsor is both a working palace used for state occasions and a private home for the Queen and many members of the family. The queen is always resident for a month in spring known as the Easter Court and for Royal Ascot in June.

The castle has State Apartments, semi-state rooms, the famous Queen Marys’ Dolls House and various exhibitions and tours to enjoy. The town has many souvenir and exclusive shops as well as a regular shopping centre. In the shadow of the castle lies Home Park with a childrens’ play area and playing fields.

Windsor Great Park

There is a 5000 acre deer park known as Windsor Great Park spreading west from the castle. The principle hill, known as Snow Hill is connected to the Castle via an avenue of trees of over two and half miles known as The Long Walk. A short drive away within the park is the pretty lake known as Virginia Water, with its surrounding woods adjoining Savill Garden, both popular with walkers, cyclists and dog walkers all year round.

Windsor sits in the eastern end of Berkshire and is easily reached via the M4 motorway. The town also has two railway stations, one reached from London Paddington or Bristol and the West Country, the other on the end of a branch line from London Waterloo. Across the river lies the small town of Eton, famous for its private boys school.

Both London and Windsor are easily reached from London Heathrow Airport via the M4 motorway.