The first series of the hotly-anticipated Netflix series The Crown will be released on 4th November, putting the spotlight on the early days of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Get in the spirit with a trip to one of England’s many regal landmarks and attractions and follow in Her Majesty’s footsteps.
One of Britain’s most recognisable landmarks, Buckingham Palace is the office and official residence of the Queen. This winter between 16 December 2016 and 5 February 2017, the lavish State Rooms will be open for private guided tours to see some great treasures from the Royal Collection when the palace is not usually open to the public. The tour costs £80 per person and includes a glass of champagne and an official guidebook.
For those with a smaller budget, the spectacular Changing the Guard ceremony is free to watch – daily from April to July, and on alternate days for the rest of the year. And in the summer months, access to the State Rooms is available from £19.40 per adult.
For more information: royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace
Westminster Abbey was the venue for both Queen Elizabeth II’s marriage to Prince Philip and her coronation, and is a must-visit on any Royal London tour. Dating back to between the 13th and 16th centuries, it contains the tombs of kings, queens and countless famous public figures; has hosted every Coronation since 1066; and still remains a place for daily worship.
Take a Verger Tour and discover other highlights including Poets’ Corner, the magnificent medieval Lady Chapel and funeral effigies of the likes of Edward III, Henry VII and Charles II. In 2018 a new museum and gallery: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, in the Abbey’s medieval triforium is also set to open, giving new access to a space above the Abbey floor that has been hidden to the public for over 700 years. Adult entry is £20 per person (£5 extra for a tour) but Sunday services can be attended by all free of charge.
For more information: westminster-abbey.org/
The largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, Windsor Castle has been the favoured royal residence since the 15th century and continues to be the Queen’s favourite weekend home.
The Crown is sure to spark some regal wardrobe lust and where better to get a closer look than the “Fashioning a Reign” exhibition at Windsor Castle, launched last month to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. The display of fashionable dress spans the period from the Queen’s childhood in the 1930s to the present day. Examples of the work of leading British couturiers who have been appointed as dressmakers to the Queen illustrate Her Majesty’s support for British fashion and reveal the specialist techniques of designers and milliners. Magnificent evening gowns and elegant day ensembles worn at official events are contrasted with fancy-dress costumes worn by the young Princess Elizabeth for wartime family pantomimes at the castle. Until 8 January, 2017, adult exhibition entry from £20.
For more information: royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle
The Royal County of Berkshire
The Royal County of Berkshire was given its royal title because it is home to Windsor Castle. Witness the colourful spectacle and British pageantry of the guards marching through the streets of Windsor for the Changing the Guard ceremony within Windsor Castle’s walls. Have a flutter like the Queen on the horses at world-famous Ascot Racecourse, home of Royal Ascot in June, or Royal Windsor Racecourse, popular for Monday evening meetings and themed race days. Or just relax and be inspired by the beautiful gardens such as the Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park.
For more information: royalcollection.org.uk
Sandringham Estate, Norfolk
The much-loved country retreat of the Queen, and the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862. The house, set in 24 hectares of stunning gardens, is perhaps the most famous stately home in Norfolk and is at the heart of the 8,000-hectare Sandringham Estate, 240 hectares of which make up the woodland and heath of the country park, open to the public free of charge every day of the year.
The house, museums and gardens (open from April until 30 October) make for a great day out with guides in each of the rooms and a fantastic array of exhibits including royal vehicles and photographs at the museum. Guided garden tours are also available on select days, as well as private tours of the house (for those who want to live like a royal…)
For more information: sandringhamestate.co.uk
Kensington Palace, London
Kensington Palace is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which has been in the royal family since the 17th century, and was once home to Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
Set in Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, Kensington Palace offers the chance to experience life as a 17th and 18th century royal courtier whilst making your way through the magnificent King’s and Queen’s State Apartments adorned with remarkable paintings from the Royal Collection. Check out the special film highlighting key moments in the life of HM The Queen, including her coronation and wedding, her role as Head of State undertaking ceremonial duties, meeting world leaders and representing Great Britain on the global stage. Adult entry from £16.90 if booked online. Children under 16 free.
And three right royal events…
Changing of the Guard
This colourful spectacle takes place every other day through the autumn and winter months. At 11:30am prompt, one regiment of the Household Troops or ‘Guards’ takes over from another. The New Guard, who during the course of the ceremony become The Queen’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks. The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes and takes place every day between April and July, and every other day the rest of the year.
Trooping the Colour
When? 17 June 2017
Trooping the Colour at Horse Guards Parade is Queen Elizabeth II’s annual birthday ceremony and dates back to the 17th Century when a regiment’s colours (flags) were used as a rallying point in battle and carried (or ‘trooped’) down the ranks, so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers. Although The Queen was born on 21 April, it has long been the tradition to celebrate the Sovereign’s birthday publicly in June. The parade comprises more than 1,000 officers and men, 200 horses and over 200 musicians. The parade route extends from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and back again. The ballot for the 2016 parade opens in January.
Order of the Garter
Each June, a procession and service take place at Windsor Castle for the Order of the Garter. The Order is the senior and oldest British Order of Chivalry – new appointments to the Order of the Garter are usually announced on St. George’s Day (23 April) but the ceremonies take place in June, on what is known as Garter Day.
Afterwards the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh entertain the members and officers of the Order at a lunch in the Waterloo Chamber. Finally, the Knights process on foot to a service in St. George’s Chapel, wearing their blue velvet robes, known as mantels, and black velvet hats with white plumes. The processional route is through the Upper, Middle and Lower Wards of the castle to St. George’s Chapel. The colourful procession is led by the Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle and the Military Knights of Windsor. The Queen attends the service along with other members of the Royal Family.
A limited number of tickets are available for members of the public to watch the procession to St. George’s Chapel from inside the precincts of Windsor Castle. Applicants can request up to four tickets each. Applications must be sent between 1 January and 1 March each year to Garterday.email@example.com
Where? Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire
Swan Upping is the annual census of the swan population on stretches of the Thames in the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. This historic ceremony dates from the twelfth century, when the Crown claimed ownership of the country’s swans. Swan Upping sees a small procession of traditional rowing skiffs making their way up the River Thames, followed by a small flotilla of other boats and regular river users. The Queen’s Swan Uppers wear traditional scarlet uniforms and each boat flies appropriate flags. There is typically a garden party held at Oakley Court Hotel when the procession passes; crowds gather at the various locks en route, and many charter companies rent out vessels to follow the procession.
For more information: royal.uk/swan-upping
For more inspiration check out Visit England’s royal recommendations: visitengland.com/things-to-do/royal
Radio Times holidays
Bath Christmas market and the Cotswolds, from £95pp. For a couple of festive days away, look no further than this great-value break. Combining the very best seasonal shopping with fine food, Bath’s spectacular Christmas lights and a short tour of the lovely Cotswolds, it promises to be an unmissable pre-Christmas weekend. Click here for the full itinerary and to book.
Edinburgh Christmas markets and shopping, from £159pp. Join us in fabulous Edinburgh this Christmastime, and get the Christmas shopping off to a flying start! With fantastic shops along world-famous Princes Street and in nearby Ocean Terminal, Christmas Markets packed with seasonal gifts and entertainment, and wonderful sights all within easy reach, the ‘Athens of the North’ makes the perfect festive break. Click here for the full itinerary and to book.