‘Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the queen’, as the traditional nursery rhyme goes. Although the Queen can often be found at Windsor Castle, London is still the perfect place to experience royal culture with its magnificent, historic buildings – and with our 360° video you can discover the capital’s royal connections from the comfort of home. Here we explore the sites of royal births and marriages (and a couple of beheadings too) and discover the fascinating history behind Britain’s monarchy.
Proudly overlooking the River Thames, this palace, fortress and former prison has a murky history. Two of Henry VIII’s wives were executed here (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard) and young sons of Edward IV are believed to have been murdered on the premises. In contrast to its grizzly past, the Tower houses the dazzling Crown Jewels, a stunning collection of royal ceremonial treasures. Alongside the crown and sceptre used in The Queen’s coronation, the Tower is also home to stones cut from the world’s largest white cut diamond, the Cullinan.
Across the river in Greenwich is the elegant Queen's House, the first building in England built in the classical style. The mansion was commissioned by Anne of Denmark, wife of James I. Inside is a set of incredibly opulent rooms and an art collection spanning 400 years - its showpiece is the famous Spanish Armada portrait of Elizabeth I. The property is also home to the Tulip Stairs, a beautiful white and blue geometric self-supporting spiral staircase, the first of its kind to be built in Britain. You can browse the beautiful building’s digital collections, and get a taste of life inside the house’s walls.
This palace needs no introduction. As The Queen’s official London residence and the birthplace of Prince Andrew and Prince Charles, Buckingham Palace is often the focus of both royal and national celebrations. The State Rooms are a particular highlight, a set of beautifully decorated rooms where the Queen and the Royal family entertain guests on state, ceremonial and other occasions. You can explore many of the rooms, including the Throne Room, White Drawing Room and Grand Staircase, in 360˚ images on the Palace’s official website.
Horse Guards Parade is situated just off Whitehall and is the site of the Trooping the Colour, the ceremony to mark the Queen’s official birthday. The Household Cavalry Museum details the history and accomplishments of the Household Cavalry, while providing a unique behind-the-scenes look at the work of the Queen’s Mounted Bodyguard. You can even embark on a virtual 3D tour of the museum to find out more.
This magnificent building is the site of royal funerals and weddings (most recently Prince William and Kate Middleton) and the final resting place of 17 kings and queens. St George’s Chapel holds the oak Coronation Chair, which has been in use since 1300. Alongside its awesome fan-vaulted ceiling are memorials to notable figures in British history like Jane Austen, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Olaudah Equiano. When the weather’s good, the College Garden provides an oasis of tranquillity in the heart of the city.
Surrounded by a lush landscaped garden, Kensington Palace was the birth place of Queen Victoria and home to Queen Anne (recently depicted in the film The Favourite). Now it’s the official London home of Will and Kate and inside are an array of fascinating displays on the early life of Queen Victoria. The opulent King’s State Apartments, where George II and Queen Caroline held their court, and the palace’s Sunken Garden
s are particularly impressive. Kensington Palace Garden comes alive during the spring with tulips and pansies, and in the summer when vibrant begonias and geraniums bloom.