Top 10 royal attractions

As the nation waves the flag for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee why not take a peek inside the iconic royal landmarks that span Great Britain. From the northern reaches of Scotland at one of The Queen’s favourite summer retreats at Balmoral to the oldest occupied castle in the world in Windsor – Britain is full of royal places waiting to be discovered.

 

1. Buckingham Palace

One of Britain’s most recognisable landmarks, Buckingham Palace is the office and official residence of the Queen. From the end of July to September the Queen opens her home to visitors, giving you the chance to tour the lavish State Rooms and garden, and see some great treasures from the Royal Collection along the way. Visit this summer for a special Platinum Jubilee exhibition showcasing the Queen’s glistening jewellery and iconic portraits. And don’t forget to catch the spectacular Changing the Guard ceremony. It’s free to watch and runs daily from April to July, and on alternate days for the rest of the year.

 

2. Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace has been home to many members a royal including Queen Victoria, Diana Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Take a look back through the years of the Royal Family with the exhibition, Life Through a Royal Lens – showcasing anything from more intimate family moments to Cecil Beaton’s iconic imager of Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen’s Mother.

 

3. Windsor Castle

Not only is Windsor Castle the Queen’s favourite residence, it’s also the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. Don’t miss the magnificent State Apartments, St George’s Chapel (the burial ground of 10 monarchs) and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House - the most famous dolls’ house in the world.

Travel like royalty round Windsor Great Park aboard a horse drawn carriage or tuck into Big Lunch Day and see the castle’s Long Walk transform into a vast picnic table for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Head inside for a front row view of the original Coronation Dress and Robe of Estate.

 

4. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is steeped in over 1,000 years of history, and has been the setting for the coronation of every English monarch from 1066. The abbey has seen 16 royal weddings and is also the place where Queen Elizabeth II was crowned as queen 70 years previous. Visit during the Platinum Jubilee weekend for a garden party and dedicated jubilee tours.

 

5. Hampton Court Palace

The magnificent Hampton Court Palace in Richmond, London, was Henry VIII’s favourite royal residence. Step back in time for a taste of Tudor life in Henry VIII’s kitchens; and lose yourself in the famous Hampton Court Maze.

See knights charge down to the palace for the Jubilee Joust, or if you’re a Bridgerton fan, discover the places that set the scene for the hit Netflix series. For year-round entertainment, check out the events calendar - from a stepping back in time with the Tudors to seeing flowers bloom at the Garden Festival.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England. Queen of Hearts sculpture.

Hampton Court Palace, RHS Flower Show, Richmond upon Thames © VisitBritain / Peter Beavis

 

6. Sandringham House & Estate

Sandringham House in Norfolk is one of the Queen’s favourite houses, and where she chooses to spend Christmas with her family. Since 1862, Sandringham has been the private home of 4 generations of monarchs and was once described as ‘The most comfortable house in England’.

See the Queen’s love for the country retreat first hand at a special exhibition showcasing her reign and life at Sandringham, or if you visit during the Platinum Jubilee weekend expect a vintage fair, afternoon tea and a live screening of the celebrations in London.

 

7. Edinburgh Castle

Perched on top of an extinct volcano at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. It became Scotland's chief royal castle in the Middle Ages and is now home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th-century gun Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.

Visit on June 2nd and experience a gun salute to mark the weekend of nation-wide celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Or some added pomp and pageantry with military displays and artistic performances, celebrate The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place in the city through August.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett

 

8. Balmoral Castle & Estate

Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire has been a private Scottish home of the British Royal Family ever since. The Queen and her family usually spend their summer on the estate, which opens its grounds, gardens and Castle Ballroom to the public from April to July each year.

Look out for special theatrical events through the year from Shakespearean classics to contemporary plays, or for something a little more fast-paced join a Balmoral Expedition for a ride across the estate in a Land Rover.

 

9. Tower of London

One of the globe’s most famous fortresses, the Tower of London has seen service as a royal palace, prison, armoury and even a zoo. Today, it’s a World Heritage Site, where you’ll be dazzled by the Crown Jewels; hear tales from the Tower on a Yeoman Warder tour and see where Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard are thought to have been executed.

This year, see the moat flooded with floral delights as it bursts with colour and nature. To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this super bloom creates a new beauty spot in the urban landscape – see it in full bloom until mid-September.

Tower of London, London, England
Tower of London, London, England © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett

 

10. Palace of Holyroodhouse

No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. The palace is best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots – she was married here, and witnessed the brutal killing of her secretary in her private apartments. A tour of the Palace will take you to the State Apartments, the gardens and the Queen’s Gallery, where you’ll find changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection.

Visit this summer to take look back through Her Majesty’s iconic Jubilee outfits and dazzling jewels. 

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