“K” is for KINGS & QUEENS!
I’ve been chronicling the beginnings of the British monarchy in my Weekend Warrior Sunday: London Leaders series, but instead of walking through the annals of history online or in a book, you can literally walk the halls of royalty in any of the several royal palaces in and around London.
The Historic Royal Palaces organization runs and maintains five palaces that are no longer royal residences. At their website, you can look into becoming a member for unlimited entry to these sites. Right within the heart of the city is the Tower of London, former fortress, prison, and execution site, which presently houses the Crown Jewels androyal armor. Just west of center in Kensington Gardens is Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria grew up as a princess and where Lady Diana lived after separating from Charles. Currently undergoing renovations, this palace is running its imaginative “Enchanted Palace” exhibition for the time being. Hampton Court Palace is a short overground train ride from Wimbledon where you can tour the sprawling home Henry VIII had taken over from Cardinal Wolsey after the latter had disputed the former’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. The gardens house centuries’ old yew trees and a hedge maze. HRP also includes Kew Palace, located within the vast Kew Gardens, and Banqueting House.
Then, of course, there are the palaces where the Queen continues to reside—namely, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. I believe you might have heard of them? Buckingham is, of course, right here in London and where the tourists throng each day for the Changing of the Guards, and Windsor is a twenty-minute train ride from Paddington Station. Within the Windsor complex is St. George’s Chapel, where not only historical monarchs like Henry VIII are buried, but the present royal family as well, so you can pay your respects to the Queen Mum and King George VI (the very one depicted by Colin Firth in the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech). If you’re interested in visiting the tombs of other prominent royals like Queen Elizabeth I and St. Edward the Confessor, it would be worth your while to visit Westminster Abbey.
Speaking of Westminister Abbey, it bears great royal significance as the sight of coronations; you can see the coronation chair itself on display when touring the church. This was also the site of Diana’s funeral and in just a couple weeks will be hosting some other big royal event, I forget what… C’mon. Are you really going to make me say it? Really? Fine. Royal Wedding. The Royal Wedding. William and Kate. Now go buy your commemorative china and get it out of your system.
If your royal intrigue continues, check out the official Royal Wedding website, the Official Website of the Royal Monarchy, and The Royal Collection. You can even find Her Majesty on Facebook. 🙂 By the way, if you’ve made the London move in time for June 11, bid a happy “official” birthday to Her Royal Highness at the upcoming Trooping the Colour ceremony.
They say a man’s home is his castle, so once you’ve rented your London apartment and settled into it as a palace of your own (many come with just the one “throne room,” but maybe you’ll luck out and score two, or at least an extra half-bath ;)), venture out about town and give yourself the royal treatment!