23/02/2024

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10 Best Royal Things To Do In London: Guide To Britain’s Monarchical Charms

14 min read
10 Best Royal Things To Do In London: Guide To Britain’s Monarchical Charms

Are you looking for the best Royal things to do in London? I got you covered! I have been to London countless times and I love history, most especially anything to do with the Royal family and the British monarchy.

London’s royal heritage is not just about crowns and castles; it’s a living, breathing journey through time. My goal? To guide you through the best royal experiences the city has to offer.

Let’s dive into my top three picks and why they’re a must-visit:

Buckingham Palace
🏰 Witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony.
🏰 Explore the grandeur of the State Rooms.
🏰 Feel the pulse of Britain’s current monarchy.

Tower of London
👑 Marvel at the Crown Jewels’ sparkle.
👑 Discover tales of historical figures and infamous prisoners.
👑 Experience the legend of the Ravens and the Tower.

Westminster Abbey
💒 Walk through a venue of royal coronations and weddings.
💒 See the final resting place of historical figures and poets.
💒 Admire the stunning Gothic architecture.

Here are the Royal Things to Do in London, UK:

1. Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace Gardens in London
Royal Things to Do in London: Buckingham Palace Gardens in London

Buckingham Palace isn’t just a grand building; it’s a symbol of the United Kingdom’s rich history and the monarchy’s endurance. It started as a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and evolved into the monarch’s administrative headquarters.

The architecture of Buckingham Palace is a feast for the eyes. The palace’s facade, especially the famous balcony where the royal family greets the public during significant events, is a sight to behold.

Inside, the Staterooms are a display of regal elegance and history, though they’re only open to the general public tours every summer and exclusive tours only every winter. I had a great opportunity to visit Buckingham Palace with my husband this summer. The whole experience was truly outstanding!

Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside the palace, and a strict protocol on security and your belongings. Make sure not to bring any luggage bigger than a small backpack.

Now, let’s talk about another star attraction – the Changing of the Guard. This ceremony is a perfect blend of precise military drill and historical tradition. It’s not just a change of security duties; it’s a centuries-old ritual that symbolizes the continuity of the monarchy. The guards, in their iconic red tunics and bearskin hats, accompanied by a military band, are a sight that stays with you.

Changing of the Guards
Royal Things to Do in London: Changing of the Guards

Alternatively, there are some guided tours that you can join like this one from Get Your Guide, to ensure you have the best view of this gallant parade.

For the best experience, here are some tips: The ceremony usually takes place around 10:45 to 11 AM, but it’s good to check the schedule online as it can vary. Arrive early to grab a good viewing spot – the area around the Victoria Memorial is often less crowded. And remember, this isn’t just a photo opportunity; it’s a chance to witness a living piece of history.

2. The Tower of London: A Royal Fortress Through History

Ryazan Tristram at the Tower of London
Royal Things to Do in London: Ryazan Tristram at the Tower of London

The Tower of London is a must-visit. It’s a place where you can feel the pulse of British history. Its story begins around 1066 when William the Conqueror decided to build a mighty fortress to assert his control over London.

Over the years, it transformed from this symbol of oppression into a royal palace, a treasury, and even a zoo! Imagine the walls of the Tower whispering tales of kings and queens, battles and betrayals.

One of the most breathtaking sights inside the Tower is the display of the Crown Jewels. These aren’t just sparkly accessories; they symbolize the British monarchy’s continuity and power.

Imperial State Crown of British Monarchy
Best Royal Things to Do in London: Imperial State Crown
Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Picture the Imperial State Crown, adorned with over 3,000 gems, including the famous Cullinan II diamond. It’s not just about their monetary value; these jewels connect us to the history and traditions of the British monarchy.

But the Tower isn’t all about royal splendor. It’s also famous for its darker past as a prison. Think about Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, and even Elizabeth I before she became queen, all confined within these walls. Each prisoner leaves behind a story, a piece of the puzzle in Britain’s complex history.

And then there are the legends, like the one about the ravens. Legend says that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, both it and the kingdom will fall. That’s why you’ll always see at least six ravens there, with their wings clipped to ensure they don’t fly too far away.

It’s a quirky yet fascinating blend of superstition and tradition that adds to the Tower’s mystique.

3. Westminster Abbey: Coronations and Royal Weddings

London Westminster Abbey
Royal Things to Do in London: London Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is the heartbeat of royal ceremonies in Britain. Think of it as the stage for the most significant events in British monarchy – coronations, weddings, and funerals.

Since William the Conqueror’s coronation in 1066, almost every monarch has been crowned here. Remember the awe-inspiring coronations of Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III, the State Funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II, and the fairy tale wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? All these historic moments happened right here.

Now, let’s talk about the Abbey’s architecture. It’s a Gothic masterpiece, with soaring arches and intricate stone carvings that tell stories of centuries past. The nave, the coronation chair, and the Lady Chapel are standout features. Each corner of the Abbey whispers a different chapter of history and artistry.

The Abbey is also a resting place for some of the most influential figures in British history. Kings, queens, statesmen, scientists, and artists lie here.

It’s like walking through a who’s who of British history. And then there’s Poets’ Corner, a tribute to literary giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Dickens. It’s not just a collection of tombs; it’s a celebration of the impact these figures have had on our world.

Westminster Abbey is a living piece of history and a working church. Its walls have witnessed some of the most pivotal events in British history and continue to be a place of worship and reflection.

If you’re planning to visit, here are some tips: try to go early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. Consider taking a guided tour to fully appreciate the Abbey’s rich history. And don’t miss the lesser-known parts like the cloisters or the Chapter House, which offer a more peaceful experience away from the main tourist areas.

4. Kensington Palace: The Royal Home of Style

Kensington Gardens in London UK
Royal Things to Do in London: Kensington Gardens in London UK

Visiting Kensington Palace is like stepping into a world where history meets style. It’s a chance to get a glimpse of royal life, past and present, and to see fashion that has made headlines around the world. So make sure to visit this one when you’re in London.

Kensington Palace has been home to royalty for over 300 years, and its walls have stories to tell. It’s where Queen Victoria was born and raised, and where Princess Diana brought a new sense of style and charisma.

Today, it’s the London base for Prince William and Kate Middleton, along with other members of the royal family. Imagine the blend of historical grandeur and contemporary royal life that this palace embodies.

Now, let’s talk fashion. Kensington Palace is not just a royal residence; it’s a showcase of royal fashion. The exhibitions here are a dream for fashion enthusiasts. Remember Princess Diana, the style icon?

The palace has hosted exhibitions featuring her most iconic outfits. It’s a unique way to connect with the personal styles of those who have called the palace home.

Stepping outside, the Kensington Palace Gardens are a breath of fresh air in the city. They’re beautifully designed, with manicured lawns, flower beds, and serene walkways.

The best part? These gardens are open to the public. It’s a place where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll, take in the beauty of the surroundings, and maybe even feel like royalty for a moment.

5. Royal Afternoon Tea: A Quintessentially British Experience

British Afternoon Tea
Royal Things to Do in London: British Afternoon Tea

Did you know afternoon tea started as a private social event for the upper class in the 1840s? Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, feeling peckish around mid-afternoon, started having tea and snacks in her boudoir.

It wasn’t long before this turned into a social gathering among the elite, and thus, the afternoon tea tradition was born.

Now, if you’re in London and fancy a royal-themed afternoon tea, there are some spots you simply can’t miss. Imagine sipping tea where queens and princesses might have dined!

Hotels like The Ritz and The Savoy offer an exquisite experience, complete with fine china and an array of delicate sandwiches, scones, and pastries. It’s not just about the food; it’s about reliving a piece of history in style.

But what makes afternoon tea so uniquely British? It’s more than just a meal; it’s a cultural institution. It’s about taking a moment in our busy lives to pause, enjoy a warm cup of tea, and indulge in conversation and good company.

This tradition has woven itself into the fabric of British life, becoming a symbol of hospitality and leisure. I discussed more of this in another article about the British Tea Culture: More Than Just a Fancy Cuppa.

If you are a keen afternoon tea lover or would love to experience it, feel free to read my other article about the Places To Have A Luxury British Afternoon Tea In London.

6. The Royal Parks: Green Escapes in the Heart of the City

St James Park in London UK
Royal Things to Do in London: St James Park in London UK

London’s royal parks are like green lungs in the heart of the city. Take Hyde Park, for instance, with its sprawling 350 acres. It’s a haven for joggers, picnickers, and even swimmers in the Serpentine.

Then there’s Regent’s Park, known for its stunning rose gardens and the Open Air Theatre. And we can’t forget St. James’s Park, with its picturesque views of Buckingham Palace and the charming pelicans basking by the lake.

These parks aren’t just about strolls or picnics. They’re brimming with activities. Imagine horseback riding through Hyde Park or boating on the Serpentine. Each park has its unique charm and array of activities to offer, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

But these parks are more than just green spaces; they’re steeped in history. Did you know Hyde Park was once a hunting ground for Henry VIII? Or that Regent’s Park was designed by John Nash, the renowned architect? Each path and pond has a story to tell, connecting us to London’s past in a unique way.

So next time you find yourself in London, take a break from the urban hustle and lose yourself in the tranquility of these royal parks. Let’s put on our walking shoes and explore these green oases together, shall we?

7. Royal Mews: The Royal Collection of Historic Coaches and Carriages

The Royal Mews in London
Royal Things to Do in London: The Royal Mews in London

The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace is like a time capsule on wheels. Initially, the Royal Mews was all about housing the royal family’s horses and coaches. But over time, it evolved.

Today, it serves as the working stables and houses the spectacular collection of royal carriages. It’s amazing to think how these carriages have been a part of Britain’s royal ceremonies for centuries!

The collection’s star is undoubtedly the Gold State Coach. Used for coronations since George IV, its opulence is jaw-dropping. Then there are others like the Glass Coach, often used in royal weddings, and the more modern vehicles like the Bentleys. Each piece tells a story of craftsmanship, history, and royal pomp.

If you’re planning a visit, here’s some handy info. Buying tickets online in advance is a good idea, as it can get quite busy, especially during tourist season. The best time to visit is late morning or early afternoon when it’s less crowded.

Walking around the Mews, you’ll not only see the carriages but also get a glimpse of the working stables, which is a unique experience in itself.

Visiting the Royal Mews is like stepping into a living museum, where each coach and carriage holds tales of royal processions and celebrations. So, when you are here, make sure to give it a visit!

8. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace in London UK
Royal Things to Do in London: Hampton Court Palace in London UK

Hampton Court Palace takes us back to the early 16th century. It’s most famous for its association with King Henry VIII, a king as notorious for his six marriages as he was for his influence on Tudor politics and court life.

The palace was at the heart of Tudor power and drama, and walking its halls, you can almost hear the whispers of intrigue and secrets from centuries past.

The architecture of Hampton Court Palace is a fascinating mix. The Tudor and Baroque styles blend seamlessly, offering us a visual feast. The Great Hall is a highlight, with its grandeur and opulence, and the Chapel Royal, with its stunning ceiling, is a masterpiece in itself. Just walking through these spaces, you can feel the echoes of history.

Now, let’s step outside to the gardens. The famous Hampton Court Maze, the Great Vine, and the meticulously designed formal gardens are some of the most spectacular in England.

Imagine getting lost in the maze or wandering amongst the oldest and largest grapevine in the world. It’s a blend of beauty, history, and horticultural artistry.

Art lovers, you’re in for a treat too. The palace houses an incredible collection of tapestries and paintings. The artworks not only adorn the walls but also tell stories of the past. Keep an eye out for current exhibitions; they often bring fascinating aspects of history to life.

And of course, what’s a historic palace without a few ghost stories and legends? Rumor has it that the palace is home to several ghosts, including that of Catherine Howard, one of Henry VIII’s ill-fated wives. These tales add an extra layer of intrigue to your visit.

For those planning to visit, buying tickets online can save you time. The best times to visit are during the weekdays when it’s less crowded. And don’t miss out on the special tours and interactive experiences that bring the palace’s history to life in a unique way.

9. The Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall in London UK
Royal Things to Do in London: Royal Albert Hall in London UK

Opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria, the Royal Albert Hall was a tribute to her beloved husband, Prince Albert. It was envisioned as a temple of arts and sciences, reflecting Prince Albert’s passion for these fields. Just imagine the history and stories these walls could tell!

The architecture of the Royal Albert Hall is a Victorian marvel. Its iconic dome and terracotta façade make it instantly recognizable. The recent renovations have beautifully balanced modernizing the venue while preserving its historical charm. The result is a space that’s both grand and welcoming, a fitting home for world-class performances.

Speaking of performances, the Royal Albert Hall is a cultural powerhouse. It’s hosted everything from legendary concerts to ballets and operas.

The annual BBC Proms are a highlight, bringing classical music to the masses in a truly festive atmosphere. The Hall isn’t just a venue; it’s a cultural icon, beloved by both performers and audiences.

The royal connections of the Hall add to its allure. It has enjoyed royal patronage over the years, hosting events like the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance. Being in the hall, you can feel the presence of its regal heritage.

For those keen on learning more, the behind-the-scenes tours are a must. They offer a glimpse into the hall’s rich history and architectural splendor. Imagine peeking into the auditorium or catching a rehearsal in action – it’s a unique experience.

If you’re planning a visit, booking tickets for events in advance is a good idea. The Hall offers a range of dining options, perfect for a pre-show meal. And don’t forget the nearby attractions, like the museums of South Kensington, making for a perfect day out in London.

10. Windsor Castle: A Royal Residence Outside London

Windsor Castle
Royal Things to Do in London: Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle has been a royal residence for over 900 years, serving as a home to monarchs since the time of William the Conqueror. It’s not just a castle; it’s a symbol of British history and monarchy.

Its walls have witnessed countless historical events and continue to be a working royal palace. Imagine walking the same halls as kings and queens from centuries past!

When you visit, the State Apartments are a must-see. These lavishly decorated rooms are used for state occasions and are open to the public most of the year.

They house some incredible artworks, including pieces by Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci. Then there’s St. George’s Chapel, an architectural masterpiece and the site of many royal weddings and burials. The chapel’s Gothic architecture and stained glass windows are breathtaking.

If you’re planning a trip from London, Windsor Castle is surprisingly easy to get to. You can read a more detailed guide to this article I wrote about the 6 Ways How to Get from London to Windsor Castle. Make sure to buy your Windsor Castle tickets in advance.

It’s a perfect day trip, allowing you to escape the city’s hustle and immerse yourself in royal history.

Map of London, UK:

HOW TO USE THIS MAP TO BOOK YOUR RESERVATIONS:

CLICK the YELLOW MARKER OR THE DROP DOWN MENU next to the title to see the various things to do and point of interest in this guide and CHOOSE your desired preview of the map, whether HOTELS & RENTALS, EXPERIENCES, RESTAURANTS OR OTHERS. Feel free to use the filters, number of guests, and your preferred dates. You can see more information about the different attractions (the GREEN MARKERS) when you click the icons, as well as finding your perfect accommodation that will suit your budget and location. You could also book your guided tours and restaurants using the map.

Read More About London:

Best Royal Things to Do in London A Tourists Guide to Britains Monarchial Charms pin
Best Royal Things to Do in London: Guide to Britain’s Monarchial Charms

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history, and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British–Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in the Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our mission is to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas, and travel guides for travelers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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