The UK’s warm connection with other Commonwealth countries means there are plenty of visible influences and fascinating connections to all over the world to be found. Here are some highlights…
See if the Queen is home at Buckingham Palace
The official London residence of the reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837, Buckingham Palace has to be the first place on your list to visit in the UK. Standing resplendent at the end of The Mall, flanked by Green Park and St James Park on either side, it really is the ultimate British sight to behold. You will know whether the Queen is at home if the Royal Standard flag is flying above the palace. In the summer, you can even get a glimpse inside with the annual opening of the state rooms.
All aboard the Queen’s Royal Yacht Britannia
Now docked at Edinburgh, the Royal Yacht Britannia sailed the Queen and Prince Philip all around the world on their Commonwealth tours – as fans of Netflix TV show The Crown will have also seen! It’s said that the only time the Queen was seen to shed a tear in public was when the Royal Yacht was taken out of service. Luckily, it is now a top-class visitor attraction – go along and see how the royal couple lived while at sea.
A taste of India at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion
There are definite echoes of the Taj Mahal in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion. The palace was built as a seaside holiday home for King George IV, and with its domed roofs and minarets and stunning interior decoration, you definitely get the feel he appreciated Indian style. Interestingly, the palace was used as a military hospital for Indian troops during World War I.
Fun fact: Sezincote is an amazing 200-year-old Indian mogul-style palace in the heart of beautiful Cotswolds countryside. It is credited with influencing the design of the Brighton Royal Pavilion after a visit by the Prince Regent in 1807.
See behind the scenes at Lord’s Cricket Ground
Stand where many a famous match has been played on a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. In the museum you can see monumental artefacts such as kit used by some of the greatest players of all time, and the Prudential World Cup that Kapil Dev famously lifted in 1983 after India's victory over the West Indies. You can even take afternoon tea in the refined Lord’s Long Room in the Pavilion.
Fun fact: Until 1864 when the first grass-mower was bought, the wickets at Lord’s Cricket Ground were prepared by sheep grazing on the grass.
Discover Birmingham, host city for 2022 Commonwealth Games
England’s second city and located in the heart of the country, Birmingham is buzzing with top-notch shopping centres, historic buildings and not forgetting the Cadbury’s Chocolate factory experience. And as host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it’s to have a brand new athletics stadium built. Don’t miss a canal-boat ride and getting a curry in the city’s famous Balti Triangle area.
Explore Commonwealth Games host city Glasgow
The 2014 Commonwealth Games were held in Glasgow and saw a glitzy opening ceremony in Celtic Park and breathtaking action across the city’s venues during the course of the games. Voted one of the friendliest cities in the world, Scotland’s biggest city is a stylish mix of arts, culture and that irrepressible Celtic charm.
Don’t miss the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which has free entry. Plus get stuck in to the city’s exciting food, drink and live music scene.
Be wowed by the Edinburgh Tattoo
The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo is a spectacle of a lifetime – staged in Edinburgh Castle’s forecourt, the military bands from each Commonwealth country perform with the castle as a backdrop. The lone bagpiper at the end will give you goosebumps, before the final crescendo of fireworks exploding over the castle rock.
Climb Snowdon just like Hillary did to practise for Everest
New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay practised for the first ascent of Everest on Wales’ highest peak (the second highest in Britain), Snowdon. In the heart of the stunning Snowdonia National Park, adventurers of every level will be challenged here – with activities ranging from ice-climbing to afternoon tea. You can even stay in the same hotel where the famous climbers stayed – the Pen-Y-Gwryd. And yes – they did it – the first ascent of Everest was achieved in 1953.
Britain’s biggest Commonwealth War Memorial
Runnymede, on the banks of the River Thames just outside of London, was the site of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215. Now, amid a large protected area of river meadows and ancient woodland with walking trails, it is also home to the most well-known Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial. You can climb to the top for views over peaceful English countryside.
And finally…see all the flags flying at Marlborough House
Originally the home of the Dukes of Marlborough, and with a royal palace status, Marlborough House with all the Commonwealth flags up and flying is an impressive sight to behold. It stands on Pall Mall in central London. You can take guided tours of the fine rooms with their exquisite murals, tapestries, paintings and sculptures, plus the gardens and grounds.
Thanks to The Royal Commonwealth Society for their contribution to this list.