Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II turns 94 today. Traditionally, the Royal Family would take to Buckingham Palace’s elegant balconies to wave on crowds of cheering tourists.
This year though things are looking a little different – but that doesn’t mean Royal fans can’t still celebrate in style sometime in the near future. If one is planning a trip to London for when the world heals, it only makes sense for one to tour the city like a Queen. From Her Majesty’s favourite food halls and luxury chocolate shops, to her most treasured hotels and weekend retreats, here’s a list of five places to visit post-lockdown if you’d like to follow in the footsteps of Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
Take in the splendour of Buckingham Palace
No list of Her Majesty’s favourite places would be complete without an honourable mention of the beautiful Buckingham Palace. Standing strong as the official London home of the British Monarchy since 1837, this grand 775-room residence today acts as an administrative headquarters for the Royals – but the Queen and State Rooms are open to the public for tours every summer.
We recommend timing your visit to this gorgeous London landmark strategically, so that it coincides with the unmissable Changing of the Guard ceremony. Join us on a high-energy tour unravelling the secrets behind this 520-year-old ritual and we'll help you to avoid the crowds, access the most prestigious views and uncover the surprising backstories behind Britain’s most famous (and sometimes infamous) Monarchs. And if you really want to get a feel of how The Queen travels, be sure to check out the Royal Mews before leaving the Palace behind and continuing on your Royal tour of Britain’s glamorous capital city.
Try luxury truffles at Charbonnel et Walker
Legend has it that Her Royal Highness has something of a sweet tooth. In August 2019, a delectable documentary on Channel 5 called “The Wonderful World of Chocolate” revealed, among other tasty secrets, that Her Majesty is a regular visitor to London chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker.
Situated in the glamorous Victorian-era Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street, this high-end boutique has been serving tasty truffles and handmade treats to chocolate connoisseurs for more than 140 years. Past celebrity customers have ranged from legendary writer Oscar Wilde to modern pop icon Taylor Swift. However, Head Charbonnel Chocolatier Adam Lee describes The Queen as his “most important customer” and, according to reports, the store’s Rose and Violet creams are Her Majesty’s chocolate of choice. If you’d like to taste one for yourself, why not sign up for our Sweet Like Chocolate walking tour and track down the city’s very best chocolate hotspots?
Go luxury goods shopping at Fortnum and Mason
Keen to delve even deeper into Her Majesty’s shopping habits? Legendary London department store Fortnum and Mason is another city hotspot regarded as something of a favourite destination among the Royal Family. Step inside this Piccadilly landmark to find famous teas and coffees as sipped by Royal lips, gift hampers as purchased by Dukes and Duchesses and personalised gifts galore.
When visiting shops anywhere in London, we recommend keeping an eye out for Royal Warrants. These marks of Royal recognition, which were first established in 1840, usually take the shape of a display document bearing a coat of arms – just like the one here at Fortnum and Mason. If the shop you’re standing in has served goods or services to either The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh or The Prince of Wales on a regular basis for five years or more, there should be a Royal Warrant proudly displayed somewhere on the premises. Plan in advance and pinpoint all the top locations beforehand by browsing the 816 company names listed on The Royal Warrant Holders Association website.
Get your beauty sleep at the Goring Hotel
If you wish to sleep like a Queen (or King) on your visit to the British capital, nowhere in the city screams royal luxury quite like the Goring Hotel in Belgravia. This fine London establishment (another prime location that has earned itself a Royal Warrant) has played host to a number widely reported Royal parties, including gatherings to celebrate the likes of George VI and Elizabeth II’s coronations.
Reports in The Daily Mail from as recently as December 2018 have placed Her Royal Highness herself here having Christmas lunch, while The Queen Mother is said to have frequented The Goring’s famous Dining Room restaurant to enjoy Eggs Drumkilbo, a popular lobster and egg-based breakfast dish, on the occasional morning. The hotel’s current head, George Goring, has been presented an O.B.E for “services to the hotel industry” and the splendid, spacious red and yellow interiors here give off a regal atmosphere that really has to be experienced to be believed. We’d recommend having a wander around The Goring’s gorgeous lobby and, if you have the time, reserving a table at the Michelin-starred restaurant for afternoon tea.
Venture beyond the city to discover Windsor
Windsor Castle is widely known the world over as the Queen of England’s weekend home and, located just 21 miles from Central London, it doesn’t take long to get here if you fancy a break from all that hectic shopping and fine wining and dining in the city.
First founded by William the Conqueror way back in the 11th century, Windsor Castle has housed as many as 39 Monarchs over the years – and has a reputation as being both the largest and the oldest occupied castle anywhere on the planet. We’d recommend pre-booking tickets way in advance to avoid disappointment – and selecting an earlier slot where possible, as entry to the State Apartments has been known to close half an hour before evening admission times. Be sure to have a wander around the historic town itself, popping your head in some of the charming local shops, such as The Fudge Kitchen. Nearby Windsor Great Park, which spans a whopping 4,800 acres of greenery, is also a fabulous spot for an afternoon picnic – that is, if you find Windsor Castle Grounds to be a little too touristy.
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