Visit London Blog » buckingham palace Enjoy the very best of London Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:26:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top Accessible Attractions in London by Srin Madipalli Thu, 15 Aug 2013 13:56:42 +0000 London resident, wheelchair user and Disability Horizons co-founder Srin Madipalli, shares his thoughts on accessible attractions in London.

EDF Energy London Eye

The London Eye is one of my favourite tourist sites in London. On a clear day or evening, you get stunning views across the city of most of the major landmarks. There were no issues driving my wheelchair into the capsule, which was step-free.

Buckingham Palace

It’s been a long time since I went to Buckingham Palace (about 10 years ago!), but I remember being able to go everywhere. There was a small delay with one of the stair lifts, which struggled to lift my very heavy powered wheelchair.

The Natural History Museum, V&A Museum and Science Museum

All three museums are right by one another in South Kensington. They are big, fascinating and insightful places that have some fantastic exhibitions. Access is generally very good, but on busy days, or for special exhibitions, working through the crowds can be a bit difficult.

Tate Modern

For those of you who are like me, and know very little about the arts, or are generally unfamiliar with anything related to modern art, the Tate Modern is perfect. It’s accessible, spacious, easy to navigate and its exhibitions are well-presented. As it is free to enter, you can wander in and out as you wish.

Tate Modern is in a great location, on London’s South Bank, right by Shakespeare’s Globe and opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, so if you get bored of the art, there are other things in the vicinity to see. There is also a really good pub right by the Tate Modern called the Founder’s Arms which overlooks the Thames. Great place to have a beer on a warm summer’s day (it is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible toilet too).

The British Museum

Another one of the big mega museums of London that is free to enter. My law school was a two minute walk from the British Museum, so when I used to have periods of free time between lectures, I sometimes went for a wander around.

While it is fully accessible, it is also one of those museums that is difficult to fully see in just a day. If time is limited, I’d recommend going to one of the special exhibitions. Like with London’s other museums, they can get really crowded on certain busy days, which can make it difficult to fully appreciate what you are seeing.

Also, just be wary that is a big museum, so if have any difficulties with fatigue or tiredness, be sure to plan your visit and identify in advance any particular exhibitions or galleries that you would prefer to visit.

Kew Gardens

One of London’s real gems, the vast expanse of Kew Gardens can be a great day out, and it is accessible. As it is more towards the edge of the city, you will need to consider transport more carefully.

I recall Kew Gardens Station being step-free, but as there would be a big step to get onto the train, I had to arrange assisted travel with South West Trains, who organised a ramp. I found the most interesting bit of Kew Gardens to be the special greenhouses, where the controlled conditions enable plant-life that usually can’t grow in a British climate. Like with the museums, Kew Gardens is pretty big – more than 300 acres in fact – so if this is likely to cause any difficulties, plan your day.

London Dungeon

I really like the London Dungeon. It is a bit cheesy, but it is a good laugh and a good way to spend a couple of hours. While accessible, some parts of the London Dungeon can be quite dark, which could make it difficult for some. I recall people in costumes and waxwork exhibits jumping out from nowhere trying to “scare” you, which I found utterly hilarious, but imagine that some people wouldn’t!

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is a tranquil and peaceful place that sits within the hustle and bustle of the busy financial district of central London known as the “Square Mile”. Once a upon a time, I used to go through the grounds of St Paul’s as short-cut on my way home. Most parts are accessible, but there are some areas that aren’t, such as the Whispering, Golden and Stone galleries, due to its age.

National Gallery and Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery is one of the smaller of London’s premier galleries, but it is still very impressive. I recently visited the National Gallery for a special collection of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Again, they are both free to visit and accessible but, like all museums in London, can be a pain to make the most of when busy. Trafalgar Square, with Nelson’s Column, is one of the those must-see public squares and is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, the Houses of Parliament, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Trafalgar Square is step-free with an accessible route to the National Gallery which sits right behind it.

Shakespeare's Globe TheatreShakespeare’s Globe

I went to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on a kind of date many years ago. I strongly recommend watching a performance there. I loved the fact that I could choose to be in the wheelchair platform in the covered stands or in the open standing area near the stage. I chose to position my wheelchair in the standing area by the stage, which was exposed to the elements!

The atmosphere in the audience was a lot of fun – the pouring rain made it just that much more a novelty. The performances at The Globe are a world away from the boring and static way in which Shakespeare is taught in the classroom and watching a modernised play live with its characteristic audience participation is a really enjoyable experience.

More accessible attractions in London

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RideLondon Continues Olympic Legacy Tue, 06 Aug 2013 08:56:18 +0000 Laura Trott and Martin Johnson kick off the FreeCycle Martin Johnson leads hundreds of cyclist in World Record attempt at FreeCycle Guinness World record attempt at FreeCycle FreeCycle BMX stunts at St Paul's RideLondon Festival Smoothie Bike FreeCycle past Buckingham Palace Bike stunts at Green Park FreeCycle past Big Ben FreeCycle past London Eye Grand Prix Handcycle Race London-Surrey 100 collect medals on The Mall Boris Johnson completes London-Surrey 100 Big screens in Green Park show races London - Surrey Classic Winners

Bikes took over the streets of London last weekend, as the first Prudential RideLondon took place. As the biggest cycling event ever seen in the UK, RideLondon created a lasting legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A weekend of cycling kicked off on Saturday morning with a Guinness World Record during the FreeCycle (a mass participation eight mile bike ride). Double Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott sounded the horn, which saw former England Rugby captain Martin Johnson, followed by his family and hundreds of other cyclists depart one by one in the hope of breaking the record for the longest parade of bikes. Unfortunately the record wasn’t broken, but FreeCycle carried on throughout the day, with more than 50,000 joining in and taking advantage of the traffic-free roads, cycling past iconic land marks such as Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace.

The FreeCycle was followed by a Grand Prix around St James’s Park in the evening, which saw Olympic cyclists take to the streets to compete in several races including Handcycle.

A second day of cycling began with more than 15,000 cyclists leaving Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the London-Surrey 100, lead by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who completed the course in eight and a half hours. The elite cyclists showed off their skills, leaving the park more than seven hours later for the London-Surrey Classic and arriving back on The Mall not long after the last of the amateurs.

Across the weekend festivals in Green Park, St Paul’s and Tower Hill accompanied the cycling with bike themed activities, including BMX stunts and Bike Polo, as well as live music alongside large screens showing the races.

Whether a cycling enthusiast or not, the atmosphere at RideLondon definitely captured the spirit of the Olympics, with hundreds of people lining the streets to cheer on the cyclists. With a year to train, it has inspired me to dust off my bike and give it a go!

Fancy cycling in London? Hire a Boris Bike.

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Buckingham Palace Summer Opening 2013 Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:42:35 +0000

The arrival of a royal baby, a new prince third in line to the throne, comes in the same year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of his great grandmother’s coronation.

At Buckingham Palace this summer, as part of the opening of the state rooms, an exhibition allows you to step back in time and fully immerse yourself in the experience of the coronation from start to finish.

The palace was at the heart of the celebrations on Coronation Day and the tour begins at the quadrangle, where the carriage procession to Westminster Abbey departed, culminating in the Gold State Coach, carrying The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.

Head back inside and up the grand staircase and begin the tour of the state rooms, learning how individual rooms in the palace were used. The first room you enter, for example, is the Green Drawing Room, where Cecil Beaton took his famous coronation portraits of The Queen, using a backdrop to recreate the inside of Westminster Abbey.

The exhibition, where the atmosphere of the historic day is recreated, takes you from the 18 months of planning through to the ceremony itself.  A black and white film projected onto the vast wall shows the months of preparation, alongside replica 1950s TVs which show how the nation prepared and celebrated throughout the country. Other footage in the exhibition includes the coronation itself, plus members of the royal family joining The Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to face hundreds of thousands of well-wishers following the ceremony. In the Throne Room see family portraits alongside behind the scenes footage of them being taken.

This is the largest exhibition ever mounted about the coronation and on display is an unprecedented array of the dress, jewels, uniform, and robes worn on the day. In the Palace Ballroom see those worn by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother, as well as a two year old Princess Anne and a four year old Prince Charles. In the centre of this magnificent room is the dress and robes worn by Her Majesty The Queen.

The Coronation State Banquets were held at Buckingham Palace in the Ballroom on the evenings of 3 and 4 June 1953 and tables in the State Dining Room have been dressed to evoke this, including the magnificent settings of porcelain, silver-gilt and flowers.

Continue through the rest of the state rooms admiring the incredible décor and learning how the rooms are still used today. Finally enter out on to the terrace where the tour ends; by which point feeling as if you experienced the actual coronation for yourself.

Buckingham Palace State Rooms are open until 29 September.  Book tickets.

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It’s a Boy! Welcome to London, Prince of Cambridge Tue, 23 Jul 2013 07:00:34 +0000 Buckingham Palace has announced the birth of William and Kate’s son at 4.24pm (BST) yesterday.

The royal arrival was announced with a doctor’s certificate placed on an easel at the central gates of Buckingham Palace. The notice announced the delivery of the baby, adding: “Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”

Last night, Tower Bridge was lit up with spectacular blue lights in celebration of the little boy’s birth. (You can watch Tower Bridge anytime with our popular webcam.) Other London institutions now sporting a blue hue include the top floor of City Hall, the Trafalgar Square fountains, the BT Tower and the London Eye.

The bells at Westminster Abbey (the church where William and Kate were married) will ring for three hours and 15 minutes today, to mark the royal arrival.

The birth will also be marked with gunfire: 62 shots from the Tower of London, and 41 from Green Park at 2pm today. The Green Park salute will be more spectacular, with horse-drawn guns; but if you want a good view, you’re advised to get down there early. The best place to watch the Tower of London salute will be from Tower Bridge or opposite on the other side of the river at More London, near The Scoop. The Tower of London offers a longer salute, adding 21 to mark the loyalty of the City of London to the newborn.

The child’s official title is His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge.

Prince William said the couple “could not be happier”. Kensington Palace said the baby would be named in due course.

For ideas on how to celebrate the royal arrival in London and details of the capital’s royal attractions, take a look at our royal baby page.

And for the little prince or princess in your life, you can purchase some beautiful royal baby merchandise at the webstore.

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What’s On This Weekend. 26-28 July 2013 Mon, 22 Jul 2013 13:11:47 +0000

Remember this time last year when London hosted the 2012 Olympic Games? Well, the city is no less spectacular one year later – read on to find out why.

Open East Festival at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Marking the one-year anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic Games, this festival of street food, local brewing, international music, theatre and family fun is sure to get you back in the party spirit. Foodies can not only browse stands from local food producers and watch top chefs demonstrate their skills in the Real Food Chef Theatre, but also enjoy a locally brewed beer at the Ten Mile Beer Festival, which features ales from Battersea, Hackney and Greenwich. Meanwhile the music stages will feature a huge range of international acts, while leading artists, circus performers, BMX riders and theatrical performers will astound audiences with performances all over the park. Don’t miss Sacrilege, the life-sized bouncy castle version of Stonehenge by Jeremy Deller! Tickets are £9.50 for adults. 27-28 Jul

Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Olympic Park

Celebrate the first anniversary of the London 2012 Games with three days of world-class althletics. The first two days will see Olympic champions, including Usain Bolt, return to the stadium for the British Athletics Grand Prix, while Sunday is reserved for 2012′s Paralympic stars. Tickets start from £43. 26-28 Jul

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

What better year to visit the iconic Buckingham Palace than 2013, the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s coronation? You’ll see The Queen’s Coronation 1953 exhibition, as well as priceless historic items from the Royal Collection, including clothing, jewellery, art, sculpture and furniture. Tickets are £19 for adults. Until 29 Sep

The New Fourth Plinth Sculpture, Trafalgar Square

Unveiled this Thursday, the Hahn / Cock sculpture by artist Katharina Fritsch will be an unmistakeable addition to Trafalgar Square. The renowned German artist’s 15ft high blue chicken will replace the current sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse, which has been in place on the fourth plinth for a year. Commissioned by the Mayor of London as part of the UK’s most high profile contemporary art prize, the sculpture will remain in place for 18 months – check it out and let us know what you think in the comments!

Grey Goose Edible Art Class

From lickable life drawing to edible painting-by-numbers, this expert class will guide you through an introduction to art and edible expression using all the senses. Master the art of chocolate model-making or try your hand at edible life drawing, and indulge your creative side in a night of sensory fun with specially created Grey Goose cocktails. Visit the website for ticket prices and more details. 27 Jul

More London events

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What’s On This Weekend: 12-14 July 2013 Mon, 08 Jul 2013 11:20:20 +0000

It’s a very floral weekend in London – roam around the exquisite Buckingham Palace Garden, enjoy the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show or chill out with a flower-inspired drink in Covent Garden.

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Enjoy exquisite flowers in a spectacular setting at the ever-popular RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. With the atmosphere of a summer festival, this year’s show features special ‘zones’, each of which has a distinctive theme and flavour. Not only can you marvel at floral displays, but there are also many opportunities to get hands on, as well as to take advantage of exclusive shopping opportunities once you’ve been inspired! Tickets start from £19. 9-14 Jul

The Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace

Celebrate the 60th anniverary of The Queen’s Coronation at this unique event in the stunning gardens of Buckingham Palace. Hosted by the Royal Warrant Holders Association (a group of companies approved by the Royal Family), the Festival highlights the best of British produce: there will be more than 200 stands offering a wide range of products and services for you to try and buy. On 12 and 13 July there will also be evening galas, which weave the music and dance of the last 60 years into an exciting programme of entertainment. Tickets are £30 for the daytime event or £90 for an evening gala. 11-14 Jul

The Food and Flowers Festival in St Martin’s Courtyard

Until the 1970s, Covent Garden was the site of a bustling flower market, and on 13 July this heritage will be celebrated with a special Food and Flowers Festival in St Martin’s Courtyard. All six restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian and Dishoom, will be serving floral-themed food and drink in the courtyard  between 12pm and 5pm. Visitors will also be able to enjoy spectacular floral displays and try their hand at floral design. Entry is free. 13 July

The BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Few celebrations of classical music are as renowned or loved as the BBC Proms, and you only have to experience the incredible atmosphere of one concert to understand why. There are 92 concerts this year, featuring everything from Wagner to Dr Who, and as ever you have the chance to ‘Prom’ at each performance for just £5. For full programme details and ticket information visit the Proms website. Until 7 Sep

London MexFest

Enjoy a celebration of contemporary Mexican cultural in London this weekend, as MexFest returns with a vibrant programme of film, art, music and gastronomy. Many events take place in east London’s Rich Mix, including a series of festival parties, and you can find programme and ticket price information on the MexFest website. 11-14 July

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Photo by Swamibu via flickr

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What’s On This Weekend. 14-16 June 2013 Mon, 10 Jun 2013 09:00:17 +0000 Not only is there a lot going on in London this weekend, but it’s also Father’s Day – a great chance to show your dad the best of what the city has to offer!

The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts

See more than 1,000 works by emerging and established artists at one of the world’s most prestigious art shows, which is now in its 245th year. The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition displays painting, sculpture, photography, architecture and film that has been selected by a panel of 10 Royal Academicians from a substantial pool of entries. Everything on show is for sale, and highlights this year include a series of six tapestries by Grayson Perry and a large-scale sculpture by Athoy Caro. Tickets start from £10. 10 Jun – 18 Aug

Trooping the Colour, Horse Guards Parade & the Mall

Celebrate The Queen’s official birthday at this spectacular military parade, which has been taking place since 1820. You can stand on the Mall to watch the spectacle: after The Queen inspects the troops on Horse Guards Parade, resplendent in their ceremonial uniforms, you’ll see her lead them down the Mall to Buckingham Palace, before guns are fired in salute at Green Park. The celebration finishes with an RAF flypast, which The Queen will watch – alongside other members of the Royal Family – from the palace’s famous balcony. Entry is free, but arrive early to secure a good spot! 15 Jun

Backyard Cinema’s Weekend Movie Festival

Enjoy a movie experience with a difference at Backyard Cinema’s cinematic festival, which serves up beers, beanbags and BBQ alongside the film! Staged at London Fields Brewery, the festival offers a variety of fun films alongside the chance to sample street foods, craft beers and live music. Films on offer range from recent hit The Silver Linings Playbook to the classic musical The Blues Brothers – at which you can even sing and dance along! Tickets start from £10. 15-16 Jun

Ginstock, Hackney 

Get into the spirit of World Gin Day at Ginstock, where you can sample world-class gins, enjoy fantastic food and soak up the festival atmosphere. London-made gins such as Sipsmith will be matched with some of the capital’s best bartenders for undoubtedly spectacular results – don’t miss the announcement of the Ginstock winner at 6pm, after which you can party the night away at the Ginstock lock-in. Tickets are £36. 15 Jun

The Mill Hill Music Festival

Head to north west London for a wide choice of exceptional music at the biennial Mill Hill Music Festival. The festival takes place all across the area, and highlights this weekend include Alan Warner’s All Stars and the Vo-De-O-Do Orchestra. Some concerts are free, check the website for full details15 – 22 Jun

More London events

Photograph by Cristiano Maia via Flickr

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Visiting the Past: Capturing The Queen’s Coronation Mon, 03 Jun 2013 13:35:45 +0000 If you step out onto The Mall this week it might be busier than usual. It won’t, however, contain the estimated three million exuberant spectators who lined the streets along the Coronation route 60 years ago.

On 2 June 1953, Queen Elizabeth II left Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey to be officially crowned, more than a year after her accession to the throne. In eager anticipation of a personal glimpse of the Queen on her way to the Coronation ceremony, many had camped up to two days in advance to secure their spot on the pavement and be a part of the great occasion.

The Coronation received vast media coverage, not least as the first ceremony to be broadcast on television, bringing royalty into the homes of millions worldwide.

The event was also documented photographically, including official portraits by Cecil Beaton, and candid photographs by Fleet Street press and freelancers such Bob Collins whose work is in the Museum of London collections. Celebrations ran beyond central London of course, to include thousands of street parties in the capital and nationwide. Photographs of these events, many made by amateur photographers, captured the extensive preparations undertaken and the upbeat, merry atmosphere amidst all the Union Jack flags and bunting.

A guest blog by the Museum of London as part of our Visiting the Past series. More next week

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London Video of the Week: It’s Got To Be London by Tim Benzie and Paul Joseph Thu, 16 May 2013 13:44:47 +0000

Emma and her boyfriend Brendan (who live in Australia) are saving up for their first trip abroad together. Emma’s uncles, Tim Benzie and Paul Joseph, made this video to convince the couple to come to London instead of going on a cruise. Emma and Brendan: we agree that it’s got to be London! Find out more about the video at

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Where To See Royal Clothing in London Thu, 07 Mar 2013 10:30:12 +0000

If there’s one thing we love about the royals, it’s their clothes. From The Queen’s unending range of hats, to the Duchess of Cambridge’s maternity wear, we’re fascinated by what the other half wear. With the news that Princess Diana’s most famous dresses are to be auctioned for thousands of pounds this month, we’re looking at some of the places in London where you can see attire worn by the royal family - from recently worn clothes to much older garments.

Kensington Palace

One of the best places to view generations of female royal fashions is at Kensington Palace, where a wealth of garments are on display. You can, for example, see a magnificent collection of royal wedding dresses, or marvel at the clothes included in the Victoria Revealed exhibition (including the dress pictured above). Adult tickets are £15.

Buckingham Palace

This summer, Buckingham Palace is the perfect place to begin your exploration of royal fashions through the ages. From 27 July to 29 September, the palace’s State Rooms will host a celebratory display to mark 60 years since The Queen’s coronation. This will feature a range of dresses, robes and uniforms worn by those involved on the day, as well as the chance to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the historic occasion. Keep an eye out for the charming outfits of Prince Charles and Princess Anne, which provide a pleasing contrast to the adult costumes on display. Adult tickets are £19.

Hampton Court Palace

It may not be strictly an item of royal attire, but the replica of King Henry VIII’s crown at Hampton Court Palace is undoubtedly worth a look. Made by the crown jeweller, this stunning piece is on display in the Royal Pew and is crafted to the specifications set out in the King’s servants’ inventories. The original was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War. Adult tickets to Hampton Court Palace are £16.

Museum of London

As you walk through the many galleries of the Museum of London, you’ll notice various displays of clothing that provide extra context to the eras under scrutiny. Some of these garments belonged to the royal family of the time and within the museum’s collection are royal clothes ranging from the  mid-17th century to the mid-20th. The most intricate items in their collection, however, may sadly never be on display.  Entry is free.

The Tower of London

The most compelling exhibit at the Tower of London is undoubtedly the Crown Jewels. An important symbol of the British monarchy, they are regularly worn by The Queen in state ceremonies and include some of the world’s most beautiful diamonds. Alongside these spectacular adornments you can also view royal armour in the White Tower and King George V’s military uniform in the Fusilier Museum. Entry costs £21.45 for adults.

Kew Palace

Visitors to Kew Palace can see George III’s (1738-1820) waistcoat on display. Made from pale blue damask, the waistcoat was designed for the monarch towards the end of his life and was especially crafted with his comfort in mind. You can check out the long sleeves and fine workmanship on this garment from 2 April when the Palace re-opens. Adult tickets are £6.

More royal attractions in London

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