Visit London Blog » royal Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:10:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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.

]]> 0
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.

]]> 2
In Pictures: Royal Ascot Day 1 Wed, 19 Jun 2013 14:04:30 +0000  

Bollinger tent Betting Champion of the fourth race The Queen and The Duchess of Cornwall The Queen's guard Race 4 Race 1 An exquisite hat Spectators in the Royal Enclosure watch returning horses

Royal Ascot 2013 opened in customary style yesterday, with the quality of the outfits easily matched by that of the racing. After The Queen’s customary carriage procession the day took a sombre note, with a minute’s silence for renowned trainer Sir Henry Cecil, who was a much loved figure at Ascot and who died last week aged 70.

Soon, however, racing commenced and spectators were treated to the sight of top jockeys such as Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Kieran Fallon riding exceptional horses around Ascot’s verdant course. The race favourites consistently failed to live up to expectations, and there were more than a few spilled glasses of champagne thanks to a very close finish!

Royal Ascot continues until Saturday 22 June, see the website for more information on individual race days, tickets and the dress code.

]]> 0
Celebrate the Royal Baby in London Fri, 14 Jun 2013 15:54:19 +0000 Royal Baby Shower Afternoon Tea The Athenaeum Royal Summer - Afternoon Tea at Buckingham Palace with Helena and Ian The Athenaeum Royal Summer - Kate and William on their wedding day

With the royal baby due this summer all eyes are currently on Kate Middleton’s bump. With just under one month until her expected due date in mid-July, several packages are on offer around London to mark the arrival of this most eagerly anticipated baby. Whether you’re an expectant mother yourself or just want to celebrate his or her arrival in true British style, here are five of our favourites:

A Royal Summer at the Athenaeum

With the impending arrival of a new royal baby take a look back at previous royal babies, at “The Royal Child” photography exhibition, at the Athenaeum. The hotel, which sits within sight of Buckingham Palace, will offer private viewings of more than 40 rarely seen photos of royal children from Victorian times to the present day. Curator of the exhibition, Ian Pelham-Turner, who has worked with four generations of the royal family over the past 46 years, will be on hand. He will talk about his time working with the family as a royal photographer and the history behind the photographs on display. Plus the hotel, winner of the 2012 “Top London Afternoon Tea” from The Tea Guild, will serve guests their award-winning Royal Summer Afternoon Tea. Available 22 June to 31 August, £60 includes exhibition and tea.

The Royal Baby Shower Afternoon Tea St James’s Hotel and Club

Kate is reportedly the first ever royal to have a baby shower, so why not join her. Until 31 July fellow mothers to be will receive the royal treatment at this five star hotel, starting with a luxury baby gift to the value of £85, from a baby boutique. They will then receive a pregnancy treatment at Spa Illuminata, one of the finest spas in central London. This is followed by afternoon tea courtesy of award-winning executive chef, William Drabble. The package is £89 each, with a minimum of eight people, and for each one purchased, you can win a three-course meal for two at Michelin-starred Seven Park Place, including a glass of champagne if the mother-to-be delivers on the same day as Kate Middleton.

Due Date: The Cinnamon Club Delivers Royal Labour of Love Menu

For years it’s been said that eating curry induces labour, so kick-start yours so Kate doesn’t steal your thunder! From 17 June to 20 July, the £45 Royal Labour of Love menu at The Cinnamon Club will include ingredients that curb cravings, keep mum and baby healthy, potentially kick-start labour, and help recuperate and restore. Five courses mimic the stages of a nine month pregnancy; Expecting, 9 months, and breathe, overdue, special delivery. If this old wives tale is true and you go into labour in the restaurant, you will receive a free meal every year on the anniversary…just hope your child likes curry!

Baby-moon at The Lanesborough

Enjoy a last romantic break at The Lanesborough before the new addition to the family arrives and brings sleepless nights. Arrive to a welcome cocktail… non-alcoholic of course and enjoy spa treatments whilst your personal butler unpacks your bags. Then take a trip to Knightsbridge, where you will be guided to the best baby shops in town. After a restful night’s sleep enjoy a full English breakfast. This package is available at weekends and priced from £615 to £755.

“Mums only Sleepover” at The Bingham

If you need a night away from your big kid as well, why not check into The Bingham. Every Sunday until 31 December the hotel is offering sleep deprived mums the opportunity to check into one of their Queen Single Bedrooms for much needed rest and relaxation. Read a book or potter around boutique shop, have a hot bath with Abhana bath oils and scented candles, followed by room service or dinner in the river view bar (up to £25). After a night of uninterrupted sleep, enjoy a peaceful breakfast before you leave to head back to the madness (from £150).

More royal London

]]> 0
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

]]> 1
Things to Look Forward to This Year Sat, 12 Jan 2013 10:30:22 +0000 The tallest building in Europe... almost. Photo: The View from The Shard

Last year set the bar pretty high for events and attractions in London, but 2013 is shaping up to be just as exciting. Here are some highlights you can’t miss this year.

View from the Shard

When? From 1 February

What? The opening of the Shard – that spiky new building that you can see from all over London. You can visit the viewing deck on the (deep breath) 69th floor, where digital telescopes will fill you in on the various parts of London you can gaze at.

Why? It was Europe’s tallest building, until November last year when a tower in Russia inched ahead. But height isn’t everything – the Shard is iconic and will give you giddy views of the city from 40 miles around. If you’re feeling brave, head up to the 72nd floor – it’s partly open air and the highest point you can access.

New London Dungeon

When? From 1 March

What? The London Dungeon is moving to a new home at County Hall, due to building work at London Bridge station.

Why? The move to the South Bank means a refreshed and more scary dungeon – there are 18 new spine-tingling shows to watch, and a virtual 3D Brian Blessed will sentence you to death as Henry VIII.

The Coronation Festival

When? 11-14 July

What? Dust off that bunting from the Diamond Jubilee, it’s the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation, which happened a year after she became Queen. To celebrate, Buckingham Palace is hosting an exhibition featuring more than 200 companies who hold Royal Warrants of Appointment – the mark of recognition for companies who have supplied goods or services to the royal family. There will also be two evening galas celebrating music throughout Her Majesty’s rein.

Why? The goods on show will be the best of British – officially. And it’s in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, need we say more?


When? 3-4 August

What? A brand new cycling festival through the streets of London. RideLondon is made up of three events: a 100-mile road challenge beginning in the Olympic Park, a family fun ride around London landmarks for up to 70,000 cyclists and a city centre grand prix for women’s elite, junior cyclists and hand cycles.

Why? After Bradley Wiggins rode to glory in the Tour de France and then won the Olympic time trial, the appetite for cycling in London is huge – 50,000 people have registered for only 20,000 places in the road challenge.

What are you looking forward to this year? Let us know below.


]]> 2
Duchess of Cambridge Painting Unveiled at National Portrait Gallery Fri, 11 Jan 2013 09:00:44 +0000

The first official painting of the Duchess of Cambridge will go on show to the public at the National Portrait Gallery from this afternoon.

The Duchess was involved in selecting artist Paul Emsley, who won the BP Portrait Award in 2007, to paint the portrait, which took three and a half months to complete.

What do you think of the picture?

]]> 5
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Madame Tussauds Wed, 04 Apr 2012 10:39:18 +0000

Would you like to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge? Madame Tussauds London has just unveiled brand new wax figures of William and Catherine.

Catherine’s outfit includes a replica of the famous blue Issa dress she wore when the couple announced their engagement, as well as a replica of the sapphire engagement ring which belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales and was given by William to Catherine.

The couple are now on permanent display together in the Royal Family Zone.

If you’re a fan of the royal couple, why not read our guides to William’s London and Catherine’s London and find out where they like to spend time in the capital.

]]> 0
The Crown Jewels’ New Display at the Tower of London Thu, 29 Mar 2012 16:00:20 +0000

The Crown Jewels have been redisplayed in a beautiful new exhibition at the Tower of London, just in time for the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen.

I had a sneak preview at the Tower of London yesterday, before the exhibition opens to the public today, and the new treatment really is stunning.

The exhibition focuses on the coronation ceremony as its central theme. New video, music, and lighting displays bring to life the deep religious and cultural significance of these incredible items in our nation’s fascinating history. Most of the crown jewels were destroyed by Cromwell during the interregnum, so almost everything on display here dates from after 1660 – quite moden, when you compare it to the rest of the Tower.

Before you even see the jewels themselves, the exhibition builds a sense of anticipation, giving you tasters of the objects you’re about to see in videos and photographs. There’s a newly restored film of The Queen’s coronation in 1953 – not the whole three-hour show, but a three-minute snapshot of the most important bits. The artefacts are then displayed in the order they appear in a coronation ceremony, accompanied by the stirring sounds of Handel’s coronation anthems.

If you’ve never seen the Crown Jewels before, it might surprise you to hear that it’s not just a selection of gorgeous, bejewelled crowns. The crowns are important, of course, and pretty breathtaking with the sheer volume of diamonds and other precious stones on each of them, but as well as these, I saw the incredible Coronation Spoon, dating from the 12th century (one of the few remaining pieces of medieval regalia in the collection); Queen Victoria’s tiny coronation ring; 10 different maces; swords, spurs, robes; and magnificent banqueting plates, bowls and other items. It’s an incredible collection.

Rebecca Richards, the Interpreter Manager at the Tower of London was keen to emphasise that the Crown Jewels aren’t museum pieces or relics, but working pieces of a useful, operational collection. Most of all, she hoped people would stop doubting they’ve seen the real things, thinking these must be replicas! These are the genuine Crown Jewels, on display for everyone to enjoy.

You can book a trip to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels here. I really recommend it!

]]> 0
Kensington Palace Reopens After £12m Refurbishment Thu, 22 Mar 2012 16:30:05 +0000 The King's Gallery in the King's Apartments at Kensington Palace The Mourning Room in Victoria Revealed The Red Saloon, where Victoria first met her Privy Council on 20 June 1937 has been beautifully restored Portrait of Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in the Love Room, part of Victoria Revealed. Photo by Zoe Craig The Love Room in Victoria Revealed at Kensington Palace Classic formal dinner dress of ivory silk crepe by Catherine Walker. Worn by Diana in 1993. Photo by Nick Wilkinson/ Portraits of William and Kate by Mario Testino (2010) and Princess Margaret by Lord Snowdon (1957) hanging in the Vestible at Kensington Palace. Photo by Zoe Craig Luminous lace – a new light sculpture for Kensington Palace Kensington Palace

I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of the newly refurbished Kensington Palace, ahead of its opening on Monday.

The entrance to the Palace has been transformed. You now enter the building through a new light green loggia, inscribed with the details of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, and into a new Entrance Hub decorated with a light sculpture called Luminous Lace.

From here, you can choose to explore the Palace through four different routes, each signposted through different colours and pointers:

  • Victoria Revealed - 10 lavishly decorated rooms tell the story of Queen Victoria’s life, in her own words from letters and diaries, from her birth in the Palace, through her childhood, ascension, marriage, periods of mourning and her own Diamond Jubilee
  • The King’s Apartments - grand, imposing architecture telling the stories of the courts of William and Mary, George I and George II in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • The Queen’s Apartments - more intimate rooms, lifting the curtain on the private lives of Mary II and Anne and the decline of the Stuart dynasty
  • Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess - a selection of five dresses work by Diana Princess of Wales at different points in her life

The section on Diana is small, but very beautifully put together. It’s fascinating to see her dresses next to photos of her wearing them, and drawings from the sketchbooks of the designers. It’s also nice to see how Diana’s style changed, from the black, strapless evening gown by Emanuel (which has never been on display before) to a shocking pink Catherine Walker dress.

Victoria Revealed is a fantastic new permanent exhibition. Told through Victoria’s letters, diaries and other writings, the rooms and objects on display paint a wonderful picture of this endlessly interesting monarch. You can see her first pair of black silk booties, her wedding dress made of Spitalfields silk and her oldest surviving mourning dress. As well as traditional portraits and objects in display cases, Victoria Revealed has a quirkier, inventive side. Mirrors are engraved with snippets from Victoria’s diaries; text appears woven into carpet, scrawled on desks, and doodled into walls. With inventive lighting, soundscapes and some gorgeous modern installations, the result is personal, creative, feeling-based storytelling, rather than a fact-heavy, traditional museum. I loved it.

I spent less time in the Kings and Queens Apartments, but am determined to go back. Fully restored, these two sections of the Palace have been taken over by theatre-makers Coney, with a series of exciting and playful installations. In the Queen’s Apartments, I saw cabinets of love letters, ships in bottles, and magnificent trees, all telling the stories of the different monarchs who’ve lived in these rooms. In the King’s Apartments, you can see rare court dress from the 18th century, and learn about the mix of celebrity, fashion, politics and treachery that defined life in the King’s court during this era.

As well as the new entrance, there’s a lovely new shop and café, and beautiful new landscaped public gardens to explore. All these wonderful developments have really improved the Palace putting it firmly back on my list of must-see attractions in London.

Kensington Palace reopens to the public on Monday 26 March. Check out more photos from the Palace here

]]> 3