If you are a fan of history and semi-obsessed with the British monarchy this “everything royal” tourist list is perfect for you! We picked 4 top royal-related (more specifically royal-wedding related) tourist destinations that combine modern royal history with the past.
1. Windsor Castle
Photo Credit: photographer John Freeman, Royal Collection Trust
Located just 25 miles outside of London sits Windsor Castle. It is the oldest occupied castle in the world with its royal history dating back 900 years and will play a big role in the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry & Ms. Markle.
Originally founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, the gothic style castle has since been home to 39 monarchs and is currently where the queen spends most of her weekends. Not only does it play host to living monarchs, it is also the final resting place for some of Britain’s most well-known reigning monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I.
The castle is also home to St. George’s Chapel, the ceremony location where Prince Harry & Ms. Markle will say “I Do.” After their ceremony the newlyweds will depart on a 2-mile carriage ride to their first reception location at St. George’s Hall, hosted by the queen, in the castle. The chapel will also play host for Princess Eugenie’s wedding, autumn of 2018.
With its rich history and current role in modern royal weddings, Windsor Castle is a top spot for every royal wedding superfan.
2. Kensington Palace
Since the late 1600’s Kensington Palace has been home to some of Britain’s most famous royals and continues to be home to members of the royal family to this day. Some of the estates most famous occupants have been Queen Victoria before she was queen, Princess Margaret (HRH’s sister) and Princess Diana. Today TRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and their children call the palace home and soon to will Prince Harry & Ms. Markle.
Exhibits & Tours
Apart from housing members of the royal family, Kensington Palace is also home to the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection which includes iconic outfits worn by the late Princess Diana that are currently on display. This collection is not one to be missed. From her “John Travolta” dress worn to during her 1985 trip to the White House to the outfit she made history in walking active minefields in Angola, practically every outfit the princess was known for can be viewed in person.
Afternoon Tea at The Orangery
Located apart from the main structure, in the lush surrounding historical gardens, sits The Orangery in The Pavilion. Enjoy a traditional English tea complete with scones made with Welsh butter, fine tea cakes, and adorable tea sandwiches, in a setting that is sure to have you feeling like part of the royal family. (Note: If you really want to feel like a princess you can even plan your wedding at The Orangery.)
The Orangery in The Pavilion is a popular afternoon tea destination. We recommend making a reservation to avoid “queues.” No one likes a queue while on vacation.
3. Frogmore House
Not as famous as it’s sister royal properties, Frogmore House has still played an important part in royal history. Originally purchased for Queen Charlotte by King George III, the botanical painted home has been a royal family retreat for over 300 years.
Queen Charlotte’s love for botany is visible from the hand-painted floral walls to the vibrant grounds surrounding the more modest house. The home even features a selection of items from the Royal Yacht Britannia after the vessel was decommissioned in 1997.
Frogmore House will also play host to one of the two receptions for the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry & Ms. Markle, and played host as the location where the couple took their engagement photos.
To see the house is a bit tricky. Frogmore House is only open for pre-booked group tours for a limited time in August of each year.
4. Buckingham Palace
Most famously known as the permanent home to Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace is by far a staple on any London tourist stop. Simply standing at the grand gates and peering through, trying to catch a glimpse of The Queen is enough of a trill, but there are several other things to see and do while visiting the palace.
Changing The Guard
A long-standing tradition of the crown, this true spectacle of British pageantry is when one regiment takes over for another officially becoming The Queen’s Guard. The change takes place Mondays, Wednesdays & Friday at 11 AM during spring, fall and winter months and daily during the summer.
The Royal Mews
Home to the opulent carriages that have carried monarchs for hundreds of years too and from crownings, weddings, and everyday purposes, The Royal Mews is an impressive working stable that will provide the carriage and horses that will carry Ms. Markle & HRH on a 2-mile tour to Windsor Castle through Windsor Town. Not only can you see royal horses and historical carriages, but the queen’s personal Rolls Royce Phantom collection is also on display.
The Queen’s Gallery
Perfect for any art enthusiast, The Queen’s Gallery offers seasonal exhibits featuring ancient art, furniture and select masterpieces owned by the royal family.
The State Rooms
Get a glimpse inside the royal family’s exclusive State Rooms available to the public only on select dates in the winter, spring, and for a 10-week period during the summer. Highlights of the tour include the Throne Room, The State Rooms, where the Royal Family receives and entertains guests on select occasions and the Grand Ballroom.
When is the best time to visit? We recommend the summer months, as that is when the majority of the destinations are open to public access, providing an exclusive window to see special insights into the royal family. Cheerio!