One of London’s main tourist attractions is its royal heritage. From the ancient history of the English monarchy to the contemporary figures making the news today, the city of London is made up of stories, monuments and museums dedicated to the royalist past of London.
Whilst they may hold less influence over the country than they once did, the royal Windsor Family (a name that they adopted during World War One to distance themselves from their German heritage), have still left quite the mark over London and continue to be one of the largest draws for tourists staying at the Grand Royale Hotel Hyde Park. From Buckingham Palace to traditional London afternoon tea, the city is teeming with monarchic influences and cultures that represent an idealised yet very visible vision of the city.
So if you’re visiting the city with the royal family in mind, how would you go about instilling a sense of stateliness into your London trip? Below are just some of the sites, attractions and activities that give a real insight into the royal family.
Based in the heart of West London, Hyde Park was built for Henry VIII from the land he bought from Westminster Abbey. Originally used as a hunting ground, the park is now open to the public but still retains much of its royal history. With monuments including the Diana Princess of Wales memorial, Hyde Park is a must for royal loving guests looking for a truly royal afternoon out.
Kensington Gardens is an offshoot of Hyde Park and is located on the other side of the Serpentine Lake. Originally built for Queen Caroline of Brunswick in 1728 as a private leisure garden. With its sunken Italian Garden design and grandiose fountain, Kensington Garden is an idyllic corner of the central London green and manages to retain its echoes of royalty.
Royal Albert Hall
Not far from Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and the Hyde Park International hotel, the Royal Albert Hall was designed by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria but was only completed after his lifetime. The hall, originally known as Albertopolis became famous for its making classical music accessible and affordable to the masses through the BBC Proms series. The interior of the Royal Albert Hall itself can fit a capacity of over 5200 and is fit for a king or queen in and of itself.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Another Victorian-era relic, the Victoria and Albert Museum was built by the legendary monarch with the intention of making public collections of art, craft ad design that had been collected from around the world. With 2.27 million objects within its walls, this versatile museum explores everything from modern technology to ancient jewellery and was created from original international relics that had been left behind after the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kensington Palace is a royal house located just off of Kensington Gardens. Open to the public throughout the year, Kensington Palace is home to engaging exhibitions that combine digital technology and audio recordings to immerse visitors in the life, both historic and present, of the royal family.
Buckingham Palace is the official royal residence of Queen Elizabeth II and is probably one of the most visited and prominent of the monarchies houses in the city. With at least 2.8 million visitors a year, it’s unsurprising to find the palace so popular, not least because of the visibility of the royal guards, with their bright red uniforms and unique tall hats. Twice a day, guests can peer through the gates on the corners of Hyde Park and Green Park and watch the changing of the guard. In the summer, Buckingham Palace hosts two separate garden parties, giving members of the public a chance to enjoy tea and food within the private gardens of the queen.
Westminster Abbey is the official royal burial ground for many of the monarchs throughout history. From Queen Elizabeth I to Edward the Confessor, Westminster Abbey not only acts as an ancient hall of tombs but also as the site at which many monarchs have been coronated. With thousands of years of history dating back to the year 960, Westminster Abbey acts as the resting place for 16 monarchs.
The Globe Theatre
For tales of kings and queens, there’s no better place to visit than the spiritual home of the Kings Men, William Shakespeare’s theatre company, this open-top theatre is an exact replica of the old Globe Theatre which burnt down hundreds of years ago. Nowadays, the Globe Theatre stages vivid retellings of Shakespeare’s works, many of which were written for the pleasure of monarchs such as Queen Elizabeth and James I. if you’re capitalising on London getaway packages and want an extra escape into the fictional past, then the broad variety of historical dramas, comedies and tragedies staged at the Globe will never fail to provide a showstopping performance that’s fit for a king.
Hampton Court Palace
Whilst it might require some forward planning for centrally located guests at the Shaftesbury Hotel, Hampton Court Palace is one of the oldest palaces still standing today. Originally built for the then King Henry VIII’s favourite advisor Cardinal Wolsey in 1516, Hampton Court Palace was passed back to the Tudor legend after Wolsey fell from favour. Located about 12 and a half miles to the South West of London’s city centre, this castle is still a major tourist attraction and overlooks the banks of the Thames in the historic Richmond area of London.
With 5 acres and 330 departments, Harrods certainly holds enough space for a royal residence in and of itself. Whilst this upmarket department store in Knightsbridge is not in and of itself a royal attraction, it’s history as a prime shopping destination for much fo the royal family certainly places it up there as one of the more classy department stores in London. Furthermore, the son of the owner, Dodi Fayed was once engaged to Princess Diana before their tragic deaths in 1997.