Buckingham Palace

Visiting London’s Royal Palaces

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the first royal palace that comes to mind in London – but there are others.

Head eastwards to discover the oldest royal palace still in existence – the Tower of London where construction began over a thousand years ago.  During the sixteenth century, the Tower of London was best known as a royal prison – it was here that the Princes in the Tower were confined, as were two of Henry VIII’s wives: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard who were subsequently executed on Tower Green and buried within the church of St Peter ad Vincula.  

Head downstream to Hampton Court Palace just few minutes away from hotel next to Paddington Station. An impressive building, it was acquired by Henry VIII and turned into a massive palace which became one of his favourite homes.  Take a look inside the vast Tudor kitchens where meals for thousands were created every day.  Stroll around the royal apartments and explore the Great Gallery.  But listen carefully when you do so for this Gallery is said to be haunted by Catherine Howard, the fifth of Henry VIII’s queens.  Hearing that she was to be taken to the Tower and executed, she fled screaming down the Great Gallery.  Her screams are said to be still heard today.

During the seventeenth century, William & Mary built a new palace at Kensington.  This has remained a popular royal residence, and parts of it are still inhabited by members of the Royal family such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  Their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, also lived here.  Queen Victoria spent much of her childhood at Kensington Palace, and it was here that she heard she had become Queen.  There are areas of the Palace open to the public including the State Apartments and the stunning gardens.

Close to Admirality Arch and Trafalgar Square is a group of buildings forming St James Palace.  Many members of the Royal Family have offices here, and ambassadors are formally accredited to the Court of St James.  These buildings are not open to the public.

Walk up the Mall to reach the Buckingham Palace itself, one of the most iconic symbols of London and well connected to Edward Hotel Paddington.  This is the official home of H.M The Queen. You can always tell whether she is in residence by the type of standard being flown above the Palace.  If she is present, the Royal Standard is flown.  At other times, it is the Union Flag.   

Buckingham Palace has been a royal residence since 1837. Visitors are only allowed to the State Apartments during the summer, and tickets have to be booked in advance for these guided tours.  You can also visit the adjacent Royal Gallery containing an internationally renowned collection of landscapes, sculptures and other masterpieces, as well as the Royal Mews where the Queen’s official carriages such as the Glass Carriage often used on royal occasions can be seen.

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