Two royal weddings and a royal birth last year, another royal birth to come this year and a queen who has been queen longer than any other monarch. Our Blue Badge Guide Emma Matthews takes us on a Royal London Tour and shows us the highlights of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and of her fascinating forebears going back a thousand years.
Crowns and Jewels
See the priceless crown jewels safe in their vault in the Tower of London. Hear how they were melted down and recast and marvel at the ‘Star of Africa’ cut from the largest diamond ever mined. Discover how the Tower has been a Royal Palace and fortress since soon after the Norman Conquest, including being the place where many a traitor has been executed. Walk through Westminster Abbey where Britain’s kings and queens have been crowned.
Follow in the steps of princesses and duchesses on their wedding days at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. See the grave of the Unknown Warrior, brought from Flanders, on which the Queen Mother laid her wedding bouquet in 1923. Megan Markle followed this melancholy tradition after her wedding to Prince Harry. When the Queen married in 1947 women all over England sent her their wartime clothing ration coupons for her wedding dress but she had saved up her own and they were all returned.
Join the Queen’s Guard on their daily duties. Witness the world famous spectacle of top soldiers performing a centuries old ritual, protecting the Queen at Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace. They look splendid in their red uniforms and black busbys as they march in perfect time to their regimental bands. Some of the musical choices might surprise you.
Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. So why was the Queen born in a small town house in Mayfair? Today royal babies are born in hospital but until the 1960s it was quite normal to have your baby at home. One of the Queen’s children was not born at Buckingham Palace. Do you know which one and why?
Not all English kings and queens lived ‘long to reign over us’. Some had their lives cut cruelly short, often by their own families. See where two wives of King Henry VIII were beheaded and hear about the mysterious disappearance in 1483 of two young brothers – ‘The Princes in the Tower’. Stand where Charles I was beheaded outside the Banqueting House on a freezing January morning in 1649. His execution is marked on a nearby building.
Royal Fashion and shopping
Wonder at the vast suit of armour worn by Henry VIII, complete with codpiece. Hear how shops with royal warrants have been supplying the Royal Family for generations with everything from wine and cheese to shoes and chocolates. Stroll through the Royal Parks, formerly hunting grounds, where London society has gone to be seen for centuries. Wander past the palaces and grand houses still used every day by our Royal Family and their special guests.
Royal Amusements, Entertainments and Celebrations
We all love a party! See how the Royals have entertained and been amused over the centuries. From banquets, plays, operas, balls and tea parties to rock concerts, fireworks, film premieres, and even picnics the Royal family has done it all. Royal Weddings, Coronations and Jubilees are an excuse for the whole nation to get together and celebrate Queen and Country. Find out how we do it.
A tour of Royal London can be tailored to suit your interests – spend four hours or four days on your tour of a lifetime!