Beyond Buckingham Palace: Six amazing buildings with regal pedigree

As the Queen turns 90, discover some lesser-known regal gems...

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The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations are in full swing. If you fancy soaking up some majestic history but have already ticked off Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, here are six regal gems well worth a visit.

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The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

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With its striking Indian-inspired domes, towers and minarets, you could be mistaken for thinking this exotic looking building would be home to a Maharaja rather than a British monarch. But the Royal Pavilion in Brighton was actually built in 1787 as a ‘pleasure palace’ for hedonistic Prince George IV – a royal regent famous for his love of extravagant parties, gambling and drinking. The interiors of this decadent holiday home are decorated in a Chinese style, with elaborate wallpapers, furniture and art pieces. Just a stone’s throw from the sea, the creation of the Pavilion dramatically boosted the population of Brighton, and continues to draw visitors from all over the world.

Osbourne House, Isle of Wight

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Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight was the private home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for over 50 years from 1845. Built to the royals’ exacting standards, the grounds boast remarkable landscaped gardens and a Swiss cottage, built in alpine style to house the royal children. There’s even a private sandy beach, where Queen Victoria regularly swam with her family. Visitors today are free to explore the grounds, as well as stepping into the state and family rooms of the buildings, which still house many of the original decorations and furnishings.

Old Royal Navy College, Greenwich

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Although you can’t tell from visiting it today, the Old Royal Navy College was once the site of Greenwich Palace, a vast royal complex inhabited by medieval and Tudor monarchs. This huge palace was even the birthplace of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Sadly, the palace fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was demolished, but the stunning 18th century college that now sits in its place has been labelled one of the most popular filming locations in the world, forming the backdrop for movies such as Les Miserables, Cinderella, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Thor: The Dark World and many more. The magnificent Painted Hall was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and is considered to be one of the greatest pieces of decorative painting in England.

See below for a royal hunting lodge and the Prince Harry’s official residence…


Radio Times Travel offers

Highgrove Gardens, from £69pp. A rare opportunity to visit HRH The Prince of Wales’ cherished gardens at his country estate in the heart of Gloucestershire where, since 1980, His Royal Highness has transformed the formerly bleak landscape surrounding the house into one of the most creatively inspired layouts in Britain today – a ‘must-see’ for any garden-lover, and definitely a rare horticultural treat. Read more and book.

Buckingham Palace, from £115pp. In the year that the Queen celebrates her 90th Birthday, step inside Buckingham Palace to discover its many treasures and magnificent state rooms, plus ‘Fashioning a Reign’- a special celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. You’ll also visit picturesque Royal Windsor, and have the chance to enjoy wonderful tours of the Queen’s Gallery or Clarence House. Read more and book.


Glamis Castle, Scotland

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Once a royal hunting lodge, Glamis Castle sits in the lush green valley of Strathmore, around 12 miles from Dundee in Scotland. As the family home to the Earls of Strathmore, it was the Queen Mother’s childhood home and Princess Margaret was born here in 1930. The castle is also the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, although the real Scottish king never lived there. The impressive gardens and grounds house a nature trail and an Italian garden, and the variety of flora means it’s spectacular to visit all year round.

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

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Hatfield House is a gorgeous stately home in Hertfordshire surrounded by a sprawling deer park. This park, along with the older building of the Old House, was in fact owned by none other than Henry VIII who used the site as a nursery for his three children Edward, Elizabeth and Mary. Not only did Elizabeth I spend her childhood here, but it’s where she was kept under house arrest after Queen Mary came to the throne. She was living at the house in 1558 when she learned of her accession to the throne. Today the house and gardens are open to visitors, who can wander the halls as Queen Elizabeth I did, whilst soaking up the incredible Jacobean architecture and historic mementos.

Clarence House, London

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Built in the early 1800s, Clarence House was originally constructed as a home for the Duke of Clarence, who in 1830 became King William IV. Since then it has served as the London home of several members of the royal family, and is now the official residence of the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip even lived here for a few years following their marriage in 1947. Just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, near Victoria station, there are public tours of much of the ground floor of the house throughout August, making it an excellent alternative to beat the crowds.


Radio Times Travel offers

Highgrove Gardens, from £69pp. A rare opportunity to visit HRH The Prince of Wales’ cherished gardens at his country estate in the heart of Gloucestershire where, since 1980, His Royal Highness has transformed the formerly bleak landscape surrounding the house into one of the most creatively inspired layouts in Britain today – a ‘must-see’ for any garden-lover, and definitely a rare horticultural treat. Read more and book.

Advertisement

Buckingham Palace, from £115pp. In the year that the Queen celebrates her 90th Birthday, step inside Buckingham Palace to discover its many treasures and magnificent state rooms, plus ‘Fashioning a Reign’- a special celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. You’ll also visit picturesque Royal Windsor, and have the chance to enjoy wonderful tours of the Queen’s Gallery or Clarence House. Read more and book.