Our Top UK Royal Attractions

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Royal wedding fever has gripped the world, with the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle taking place this weekend in London. In honour of the event, we’ve put together an A-Z of our favourite royal attractions in the UK - in case you happen to be visiting anytime soon, and want to get into the royal spirit of things.  

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire 

We recently discovered that you can take a tour around Balmoral, The Queen’s Scottish holiday home, when she is not in residence. The castle was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, and has been a favourite destination of generations of royals ever since. Visitors can tour the grounds, gardens, and exhibitions, and you can even rent a holiday cottage on the estate (www.balmoralcastle.com).

Buckingham Palace, London 

One of the most famous palaces in the world,  and one of the UK’s most recognisable landmarks, sections of Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every summer, and a must-see for any tourist visiting London, if only to catch the Changing the Guard. Visitors can view The State Rooms, The Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews with its collection of elaborate coaches, including The Gold State Coach (www.royalcollection.org.uk).

Castle of Mey, Caithness

Located close to John o’Groats on the north coast of Caithness, Scotland the Castle of Mey looks out over the sea towards the Orkney Island, and was the property of the Queen Mother from 1952 to 1996. She restored it and used it as a holiday home before gifting it to a trust. The castle and its lovely grounds are open to the public (www.castleofmey.org.uk) 

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Perched on top of an extinct volcano at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle is one of the city’s most popular tourist attraction. It became Scotland's chief royal castle in the Middle Ages and today it’s home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th-century gun, Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun, and the National War Museum of Scotland (www.edinburghcastle.scot). 

Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire 

More than 900 years old, this lovely cathedral is a medieval wonder which attracts over a quarter of a million visitors each year. People often ask why such a huge church was established in such as small town, but the cathedral came first, and the town developed around it.The Benedictine monks who built it only had one concern, to glorify God, and nothing less than a building on a majestic scale would do. More recently, the cathedral was transformed into Westminster Abbey for the filming of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding scenes in The Crown (www.elycathedral.org).

Greenwich Naval College, London 

Originally Greenwich Palace, this was one of the main homes of Henry VIII; in fact, it was there that one of his wives, Anne Boleyn, was arrested. In the 17th century it became the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and later the Royal Naval College; today it’s a charity, and open to visitors who can tour the buildings and exhibitions (www.ornc.org).

Hampton Court Palace, London

Located in Richmond this was Henry VIII’s favourite royal home. Visit there to take a step back in time for a taste of Tudor life in Henry VIII’s kitchens, get lost in the famous Hampton Court Maze, and explore the Hampton Court gardens which are internationally renowned for being among the most beautiful in the world (www.hrp.org.uk). 

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

Located just north of London, this gorgeous Jacobean house is home to the Marquess of Salisbury and and her family, and includes the Old Palace, which was once a residence of Henry VIII. Henry raised his children there, including Elizabeth I, and it was here she discovered she would become Queen of England. The property has been featured in the Netflix series, The Crown, and used as a location for Wonder Woman, Paddington, The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love (www.hatfield-house.co.uk).

Kensington Palace, London 

This stylish royal residence has been home to many members of the Royal Family including Queen Victoria, Diana Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Visitors can discover stories from Queen Victoria's life told in her own words in the Victoria Revealed exhibition, master the games of royal court in the magnificent King's State Apartments, and uncover the secrets of the royal dynasty in the Queen's State Apartments (www.hrp.org.uk).

Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh 

Also on your sightseeing list when you visit Edinburgh should be this stunning palace, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. It is best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, was married there, and witnessed the brutal killing of her secretary in her private apartments. A tour will take you through the State Apartments, the gardens and the Queen’s Gallery, where you’ll find changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection (www.royalcollection.org.uk).

Sandringham House And Estate, Norfolk 

This is one of the Queen’s favourite homes, and where she spends every Christmas. Since 1862, Sandringham has been the private home of four generations of monarchs, and has been described as ‘The most comfortable house in England’. The house, gardens and museum are open to the public from March to October each year (www.sandringhamestate.co.uk).

Tower of London, London

This is one of the world’s most famous fortresses, located on the north bank of the River Thames, which also been a royal palace, a prison, an armory and even a zoo. Today, it’s a World Heritage Site, where you can view the Crown Jewels, hear tales from the Tower on a Yeoman Warder tour, and see where two of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, are thought to have been executed (www.hrp.org.uk). 

Westminster Abbey, London

Over a million tourists flock to Westminster Abbey each year, to visit the 1,000 year old church which has been the coronation place of kings and queens since 1066. It’s also the burial place of 17 monarchs including Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, and the final resting place of a lineup of famous individuals including Charles Darwin and Sir Winston Churchill. The Queen’s wedding was held there in 1947, along with coronation in 1953, also Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011 (www.westminster-abbey.org). 

Wilton House, Wiltshire 

One of the finest stately homes in Britain, Wilton House is a vast Palladian mansion which was built on the site of a nunnery established by King Alfred in the ninth century, and renovated in 1647 by the architect John Webb. He designed the house’s most famous state room, the Double Cube Room, where the height of the room is exactly twice its length and width. Today it’s home to the Earl of Pembroke and family, the house is open to visitors in the summer (www.wiltonhouse.co.uk)

Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Located just west of London is Windsor Castle, this 11th century castle is an official residence of The Queen, as well as the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. St. George’s Chapel, inside the castle, will be the location for the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Also inside the castle are lavish state rooms, the Drawings Gallery with its changing exhibitions, and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House - the most famous dolls’ house in the world. It’s open to the public all year (www.royalcollection.org.uk).


Joanna Hall