48 hours in… A DIY Royal Tour

The British Royal family has captured the world’s imagination for centuries, and in more recent times, the likes of TV drama The Crown, and films such as The Queen and The King’s Speech, have endeared new generations to the royals.

With a third child on the way for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, plus the impending nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle, it’s set to be a seriously exciting royal summer. So why not plan your own royal tour of Britain?

 

TIME TO CHECK IN

In London’s affluent Belgravia neighbourhood, where Buckingham Palace is located, you will also find The Goring hotel, where the Duchess of Cambridge spent the night before her wedding to Prince William in 2011. The luxury hotel, built in 1910 by visionary Otto Goring, is said to be the last grand hotel of the Edwardian era with one of London’s largest private gardens. Goring also equipped the hotel with some alleged world firsts – en-suite bathrooms and central heating in every single room.

 

DAY ONE:

09:30 GET WEDDING-READY AT WINDSOR CASTLE

Catch a train from Paddington to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Get there in time to see the Changing of the Guard, which happens on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week. Save time and buy your Windsor Castle tickets in advance.

Home to the monarchy since William the Conqueror discovered it in the 11th century, today it remains Queen Elizabeth II’s weekend home.

On 19 May 2018, the castle will become the setting for the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; some 900 years after Henry I became the first royal to marry here. It will also play host to special events from 5 May to 3 June 2018, such as Saturday family art workshops, ‘The Wedding Bells of Windsor’, where children create everything from wedding tiaras to ceremonial swords to design their own royal wedding. You can also explore St George’s Chapel, the final resting place of ten monarchs including King Henry VIII alongside his third wife Jane Seymour.

 

11.30 LUNCH LIKE A BRIT

Grab a re-entry permit from the castle shops and head into town for a spot of lunch, or book afternoon tea at the Clarence Brasserie and Tea Room, a few minutes from Windsor Castle.

 

13:30 GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

Back in London, make a beeline for Buckingham Palace. For ten weeks in the summer and selected dates afterwards, the state rooms of Queen Elizabeth II's official residence are open to the public, so take advantage to see the striking Throne Room, the Grand Staircase, and paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt and others.

 

15:30 OFF WITH YOUR HEAD

The next stop on your royal tour will delight your inner magpie as you head to the Tower of London to see the world-famous Crown Jewels, a collection of 23,578 gemstones still used in ceremonies today — and always under armed guard.

Not all that glitters is gold though; this infamous former prison has held many famous guests, such as Guy Fawkes, Princess Elizabeth (to-be Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) and was the site of execution for three of King Henry VIII’s six wives.

 

20:00 DINE LIKE ROYALTY

After freshening up at your hotel, dine at celebrity favourite Beach Blanket Babylon where Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are all said to have partied in a private room.

 

DAY TWO:

10:00 BE A-MAZED

Catch a train from Waterloo to Hampton Court Palace, one of King Henry VIII’s former palaces. It’s home to an exquisite recreation of his crown, and other attractions such as the world-famous maze commissioned by King William III in around 1700.

You can enjoy a themed tour, Tudor cookery display and, of course, the maze, as part of your Hampton Court Palace ticket. Be sure to refuel at one of the Palace’s three cafés before you head back into central London.

 

13:00 TOUR THE PALACES

Although not open to the public, St James’s Palace — King Henry VIII's former residence in Westminster - is still a working royal residence, hosting charity receptions and state visits. As such, you can’t explore inside, but the beautiful architecture can be admired from outside.

Next, head to Clarence House, attached to St James's Palace on The Mall, and the official residence of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. Admire the architecture and gardens of this stunning townhouse, which opens to the public every August.

Kensington Palace is probably the most exciting to visit, as it remains home to so many royals. The official residence for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it was also Princess Margaret’s former home and the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria.

Explore the state rooms and get to know Princess Diana through her style in the acclaimed fashion exhibition, Diana: Her Fashion Story. Wander through the Palace Gardens and enjoy the fascinating Sunken Garden, a secluded oasis planted in 1908.

 

HOW TO GET HERE

  • Getting to Windsor Castle: Windsor and Eton Central station is approximately 30 minutes from London Paddington station, then it is a short taxi ride to the castle.
  • Getting to Hampton Court: Hampton Court train station is a ten-minute walk from the Palace and is served by London Waterloo, with stops at several London stations en route.

NB to editors: The Three Palaces Royal Pass includes admission to the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, saving 5% to 10% off individual adult and child tickets, and allowing visitors to skip the queues at each attraction.

Royal Windsor

Beautiful, regal and full of history, Windsor is the perfect short break destination. Find out when to see the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle and the best of what Windsor has to offer in 48 hours.

Day 1 – Arrive in Windsor

Windsor Castle and Changing of the Guard
If visiting Windsor CastIe, it is a good idea to get there early to find the best spot to watch the Changing of the Guard. The royal ceremony usually takes place at 11:00am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but the schedule does change.

After the ceremony, go and explore Windsor Castle and all its ancient grandeur. It’s the Queen’s official home and the oldest inhabited castle in the world.

 

St George’s Chapel
Open to visitors Monday to Saturday and located within the walls of Windsor Castle, St George’s Chapel is a sight of uniquely English Gothic architecture. Considered one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in Britain, construction of the chapel began over 500 years ago under the reign of Edward IV. The chapel is the final resting place of 10 monarchs, including Henry VIII and Charles I.

Eton College
Eton has schooled some of the brightest and most famous minds, including both Prince Harry and Prince William, Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston. Guided tours of Eton College are available from 2 pm – 4 pm every Friday between 4 May and 7 September.

 

Frogmore House
Frogmore House has been a favourite royal retreat since George III’s reign. Located in Home Park of Windsor Castle, it’s open to visitors for three days in the June and to pre-booked groups of 15 people or more throughout August. 

Please note, both Eton College and Frogmore House have limited viewing opportunities.

 

Food and drink
The town has plenty of eateries to suit all budgets. For a quintessential English experience, go to the Michelin-starred Coworth Park. Its elegant Drawing Room offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside and the drinks menu has more than 20 varieties of tea.

 

Day 2 – See Windsor’s wild side and its racecourse

Windsor Great Park
The historic parkland is a vast green space teeming with monuments, ancient forests, spectacular garden displays, rare wildlife and colourful flora.

 

The River Thames.

Stroll the riverside pathway and stop by coffee shops, bars and brasseries that line the waterfront. While riverside, see more of Windsor with a drink at hand on a riverboat that takes you to the private jetty of Windsor Racecourse.

 

Windsor Racecourse

Close to Windsor Castle, this is the ultimate racing destination. From the town centre, you can hop aboard a riverboat to the famous racecourse. Between April and October, the racecourse is packed with exciting events such as Monday Night Racing, the Best of British Festival, and Ladies Day. For everything you need to know about events and days at the Racecourse, see their website.

 

How to get there?

By train: Direct trains from London Paddington and Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Central Station take about 40 minutes. Trains to Windsor & Eton Riverside take an extra 10 minutes but both stations are a short walk to Windsor Castle.

By coach: Travel by coach from London Victoria with Greenline or National Express. Coach travel takes just over 1 hour.

 

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Royal Warrant Holders

Some British brands are revered for their quality – so much so that they’re officially recognised as Royal Warrant Holders. This means they supply their goods to the households of Her Majesty The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales. Below is a list of some of Britain’s best-loved brands that hold the prestigious accolade.

Maldon Crystal Salt Co
Producing the finest natural sea salt for well over 100 years, this company hand-harvests its distinct flaky textured salt from the flat marshes of Maldon, Essex. The town has lots to explore, from museums to boat trips on the Blackwater Estuary.

 

Laphroaig
A firm favourite among whisky connoisseurs, Laphroaig is a single malt whisky from Islay – the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Regarded as one of the most flavoursome Scotch whiskies in the land, it’s no surprise that it’s the Royals’ whisky of choice.

 

Corgi
This luxury brand has humble beginnings. It began making socks for local miners in the Welsh village of Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, in 1892 and now produces luxurious knitwear in wool, cotton and cashmere.

 

Weetabix
The best way to start your morning, this wholegrain breakfast is manufactured in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire. Weetabix has been a staple on British breakfast tables since the 1930s. Try them with some honey, sultanas or sliced banana and a sprinkle of sugar.

 

Burberry
Founded by Thomas Burberry, this fashion house headquartered in London, England, has been an iconic British brand since its opening in 1856. Known for its distinctive check, innovative fabrics and timeless trench coat, it continues to wow fashion shows and garner the respect of fashionistas. It’s no wonder the Royals choose Burberry.

 

Cadbury
Its sweet, creamy flavour, its famous purple wrapping, Cadbury is the eminent British confectionary known the world over. It began in 1824 when John Cadbury opened a grocery store selling cocoa and drinking chocolate in Birmingham, England. It now makes more than 30 type of chocolate bars.

 

Berry Bros & Rudd
Founded in 1698 in London, Berry Bros & Rudd is Britain’s oldest fine wine and spirit merchant. Its first royal customer was George III back in 1760. You’ll find a collection of over 1,300 wines and spirits, ranging from £10 to £10,000 a bottle.
 

Twinings
Since 1706, Twinings of London has been a purveyor and trader of tea. With over 200 teas from around the world to try, Twinings’ shop and museum in central London is a great place to stop by for a cuppa and shop for tea-based gifts.

 

Penhaligon’s
This luxury perfume house has been the perfumer to the Royals for nearly a century. With its incredible heritage and divine perfume range, picking up a Royal scent could be the perfect present to take home. Penhaligon's was founded by a Cornish barber who moved to London. The brand started its life on Jermyn Street in Westmintster but the stores are now located all over the UK.

 

Barbour
Famous for its classic wax cotton jackets, Barbour makes classic winter warmers that have served the Royals for decades. Created in a small coastal town at the mouth of the River Tynein, South Shields, Barbour has established itself as one of the country’s best labels for high-quality country wear and stylish casual wear. Its flagship store in London’s Covent Garden is just one of many places where you can pick up some Barbour goodies.

 

Shepherd Neame
Would you doubt the quality of an ale that holds a Royal Warrant? Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewery – steadily brewing since 1698 – and owns more than 300 pubs across London and South East England. The brewery is located in Faversham, Kent, and its tours are a popular way to try a few ales while learning about the brewery’s secrets and history.

 

Hunter
Strong and stylish, the brand is a British classic. Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, Hunter boots are made to defy the harshest weather conditions and trickiest landscapes, they’ve been a Royal favourite for quite some time. They’re not just for Royals, though… adventurers, campers and festival goers rely on Hunters to keep their feet dry on wet hills and muddy fields.

 

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Royal London

London is home to the finest royal tailors, the Queen’s favourite grocery store and the makers of Meghan Markle’s engagement ring. Explore our interactive map to discover more about the royal institutions and suppliers in this majestic city.

Kensington Palace Gardens

The tranquil gardens of Kensington Palace are a perfect escape from the bustle of the city. With ornamental flowers beds and graceful fountains, the formal gardens were commissioned by Queen Mary and transformed into the grand park it is today by Queen Caroline.
 

Goring Hotel

Located around the corner from Buckingham Place, this luxurious hotel is one of the Queen’s favourite venues for entertaining. Its Royal Suit has walls lined with silk, elegant antique furniture and takes up the hotel’s entire top floor. The Goring is definitely fit for a king or queen!

 

Westminster Abbey

This ancient religious building has more than 1000 years of royal tradition. It’s the official coronation church and you can admire the coronation chair in St George’s Chapel. The abbey was the setting for 17 royal weddings including the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

 

St James’s Park

This stunning 57-acre royal park is located in the heart of Westminster and is home to The Mall and Horse Guards Parade. Enjoy spectacular views of the park from the Blue Bridge or marvel at monuments like the Queen Victoria Memorial and the Duke of York statue.

 

Dean Street Townhouse

This Georgian residence was built in 1732 and became home to several aristocratic families as well as King Charles II’s mistress Nell Gwynne. It’s now an upscale boutique hotel (part of the exclusive Soho House Group) and provides traditional British style and comfort to its guests. 

 

Cleave & Co

Situated just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, this prestigious jewellers made Meghan Markle’s enormous diamond engagement ring. Cleave & Co’s craftsmen also create decorations and medals for palace offices, heads of state and military institutions around the world.

 

Horse Guards Parade

The iconic Queen’s Life Guard and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment change takes place every day at 11am (10am on Sundays). Visitors are welcome to watch the ceremony and the crowds here are usually smaller than at Buckingham Palace, making it perfect for photos!

 

Fortnum & Mason

Known as the Queen’s grocer, this store sells the finest foods and luxury hampers for all occasions. The establishment boasts an impressive variety of restaurants offering a royal afternoon tea experience at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon and delectable desserts at the Parlour.

 

Lock & Co Hatters

Located on St James’s Street, Lock & Co Hatters is the oldest hat shop in the world. Known for its fine craftsmanship and innovative designs, this family-owned business has designed hats for Sir Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

 

Buckingham Palace

The largest of the royal palaces, this has been the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837. The palace opens its gilt doors to the public every summer so you can enjoy its opulent state rooms.

 

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society hosts it world-famous annual 5-day event in May. Horticulturalists from around the globe exhibit their innovative garden designs and compete for various garden awards. With exotic palms, inspirational gardens and floral delights, you’ll find some great ideas to take home.

 

The Crown Jewels, Tower of London

Guarded inside the Jewel House the Tower of London, the Crown Jewels is a dazzling collection of 23,578 gemstones. Still used in royal ceremonies today, the collection contains crowns and ceremonial regalia that date back to the 1600s.

 

Gieves & Hawkes

This luxury brand has provided the Royal Family with the finest garments since 1809. It holds 3 Royal Warrants and also has a long history of crafting uniforms for the Royal Navy and the British Army. Its flagship store is located in the home of bespoke tailoring, Saville Row.

 

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Explore Royal Britain

Britain just oozes with royalty with its roots dipped in rich history. Discover the UK’s castles, palaces, yachts and more. Explore our interactive map to discover royal attractions across Britain.

Royal things to do in Scotland

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

Balmoral Castle tells of Scottish history like no other, built in 1856 it served as the Queen’s countryside getaway in Aberdeenshire. This stately castle was also the setting for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s honeymoon – romance is in the air!

 

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

This sacred site situated on the Isle of Iona traces all the way back to AD 563 and was a regular destination for Christian pilgrimages. Take the chance to soak in this spiritual haven first-hand.
 

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

It’s most famous resident monarch was Mary, Queen of Scots whose secretary and confident was assassinated on the premises. Visit the home of Scottish royal history and the Queen’s office residence in Scotland.

 

The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

With the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh, you’ll wonder which British royal hasn’t graced its elegant deck. From Her Majesty The Queen and Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi, notable figures have boarded this majestic vessel. All aboard the deck for stunning exhibitions!

 

Royal things to do in England

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Indulge your inner artist with one of the UK’s largest private art collection and follow the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Located in heart of the Peak District, you could roam the stunning greenery and lavish rooms at Chatsworth House for days.

 

Sandringham, Norfolk

Housing four generations of British monarchs Sandringham is the Queen’s countryside retreat! From coastal wetlands to beautiful woodlands, find out what makes it the perfect escape.

 

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Previously used as a medieval fortress, Warwick Castle has a long and varied history. Visit the well-preserved castle where Earl of Warwick enjoyed his leisure time in style.

 

The Althorp, Northampton

Once the home of the late Princess Diana, Althorp House is now her resting place. Roam around the tranquil cottages, beautiful woodland and farms surrounding the estate.

 

King’s College, Cambridge

Feel like royalty as you gaze up at the stunning architecture of Cambridge’s King’s College. Founded by Henry VI, pop in to see its chapel that took a whole century to complete.

 

Longdole Polo Club, Gloucester

Enter the depth of rural tranquillity in Gloucester and learn to play Polo with the best of them. Even Prince Charles, William and Harry made an appearance on the grounds.

 

Kensington Palace, London

Did you know that original Leonardo da Vinci drawings were found in the palace with no clues as to how they got there? Get the royal insight by visiting the London home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and Will and Kate.

 

Buckingham Palace, London

You can’t get much more royal than Buckingham Palace. With one of the best known balconies in the world, it’s where the Royal Family appear to the public after royal or national celebrations. Inside you’ll find stunning interiors and the finest art collection to marvel at.

 

Windsor Castle, Windsor

The largest inhabited castle in the world, this building is simply breathtaking. Soak up the history of the artefacts, staterooms and grounds of one of the Queen’s favourite palaces.

 

Highgrove House, Gloucestershire

For the finest greenery in all the land, Highgrove garden in Gloucestershire will supply you with more than just a spring walk. Indulge in your luxury tastes with the kind of fine living suitable for a prince and a duchess.

 

Osborne House, Isle of White

Queen Victoria spent her holidays on the Isle of White in the palatial Osborne House. Marvel at its ornate terrace gardens or take a dip in the sea at Osborne beach.

 

Wimbledon, London

The Royal Family have had their own box at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships since 1922. If tennis isn’t your thing, there’s a charming village, an 1140 acres common (with windmill) and classy boutiques to explore nearby.

 

Royal Pavilion, Brigthton

Inspired by lavish Indian, Chinese and Islamic architecture King George IV ordered its construction in 1787. From a royal residence and seaside getaway to a hospital for Indian soldiers – the enchanting Royal Pavilion stands tall to this day.

 

Royal things to do in Wales

Conwy Castle, Conwy

Did you know that Conwy Castle was part of Edward I’s plan to build an ‘iron ring of castles’ around Wales? Its grandiosity is not to be underrated. Venture to the battlements and immerse yourself in the conquest.

 

Anglesey

Pursue some romance on the captivating north coast of Wales where Kate and Prince William found their perfect hideaway residence. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Anglesey is the perfect place to fall in love.

 

Caerphilly Castle

Wales’ largest castle is a revolutionary masterpiece in its strategic military defence. It’s one of the first castles in Britain to have a concentric design (it has a surrounding wall) and has a rich and thrilling medieval history.

 

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Meghan Markle’s British wedding dress

On the arm of beloved royal bachelor Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has dazzled us with her elegant dress sense. And now the countdown to the royal wedding has begun, thoughts are turning to that most important question – what will Meghan wear?

 

She’ll have the eyes of the world on her when she walks down the aisle on Saturday 19th May - and centuries of royal tradition and protocol to consider too. Luckily for her, we have some of the finest bridal designers in the world, many of whom would fall over their intricately beaded lace trains for the opportunity to dress our HRH-to-be.

 

Initial rumours have mentioned Israeli designer Inbal Dror as leading the race, but should Meghan decide to keep it local, here are some homegrown choices to help her shine on her wedding day.

 

Caroline Castigliano is a British celebrity designer known for her masterful corsetry and feminine silhouettes. Her first bespoke bridal boutique opened in Surrey some 26 years ago; today, the flagship store stands proudly in Knightsbridge.

 

Whether you loved or hated Victoria Beckham's own choice of wedding dress, she's since gone on to truly earn her style pedigree. While more of a prêt-à-porter designer, she did create wedding outfits for her friend, former Desperate Housewives actress, Eva Longoria – so perhaps she could help Meghan take that leap into British royalty?

 

Humanitarian Meghan has spoken about how she wears vegan leather, so this environmentally-minded bride might opt for a striking vintage look from Real Green Dress which specialises in original, ethical, alternative dresses. Owner Erica Arnold takes pre-loved designs and faithfully restores them from her studio in a converted farmhouse in the Hampshire countryside. It’s the ultimate in eco-friendly glamour – and sure to get the thumbs-up from our famously thrifty Queen too.

 

Meghan could even buck tradition with a bespoke, haute couture dress from 1970s punk princess, Vivienne Westwood. Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw famously chose this avant-garde designer when she married Mr Big in the feature-length film – but it’s expected that Meghan will pick a more traditional look for her British royalty debut.

 

Designer Stephanie Allin may have a Marylebone boutique in London’s West End, but you’re more likely to find her crafting her quintessentially British designs from her studio in Mumbles, Wales, overlooking Swansea Bay. Her range of exquisite lace shrugs give her traditional dresses a look that’s both demure and contemporary.

 

Poignantly, Meghan’s engagement ring contains diamonds from Harry’s mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and the couple could take that family link one step further. Elizabeth Emmanuel, one half of the couture team for Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s 1981 nuptials, is venturing back into wedding dress design – it could be a very fitting way to debut her brand-new 2018 collection.

 

Designers Adrien Nortier and Ben Shallow are following in the footsteps of male British bridalwear legends Bruce Oldfield and Alexander McQueen with their upcoming Nortier Shallow couture collection. After originally cutting their teeth doing bridal alternations, these rising stars can be found making wedding dreams come true from their brand-new boutique in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

 

One thing is for certain: Whichever designer Meghan ends up choosing, she’ll look just like a princess (or, more correctly, a Duchess). Congratulations Meghan and Harry!

 

Check out London Fashion Week, which takes place 22-25 Feb 2018, to discover even more talented British designers.