London's Royal Palaces

By Viator, July 2014

4 347 Reviews | Add your review

One of the last ruling monarchies in the world, the British Royal Family are the ultimate celebrities: born to rule. For centuries the Kings and Queens of England have lived in splendor and in London you can visit some of their homes, past and present.Here’s a list of London's must-see palaces.

1. Buckingham Palace

One of the best known palaces in the world, Buckingham Palace is the primary residence of the British monarch. The stately palace features 19 state rooms that are only open to the public during certain summer months when the Queen goes to Scotland. During the rest of the year, you’ll simply have to make do with admiring the gilded gates and famous balcony (where royal newlyweds traditionally wave and delight the crowd with a kiss) from the outside as you pass by on your way to leafy Green Park. The Changing of the Guard is a treat, but arrive well before the scheduled procession, and expect large crowds.

A special exhibition for Summer 2011 (July 23 to October 3) includes Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, shoes and tiara on display, as well as the Royal Fabergé exhibition, displaying Imperial Easter Eggs and other masterpieces by Carl Fabergé.

2. St. James Palace

Just down the red-paved road (to denote royalty) from Buckingham Palace is St James’s Palace. Dating back to the 1500’s, this is still the official court of the English Crown, and so is closed to the public, but for half the year, the Royal Chapel holds services open to the public on Sundays, so if you’re keen, check the bulletin board while trying to catch the small and ceremonious changing of the guard around 16:00.

3. The Tower of London

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tower of London is one of London’s most popular and oft-recommended must-see’s of London. Stunning in presence and sprawling in composition, this tower-fortress was built piecemeal over the ages, and has housed the famous Crown Jewels since the 1300s. England’s notorious ruler, Henry VII made a couple notable changes and additions here, thus lending credence to the rumors and whispers of ghost sightings. This is also where you can see and meet the famed Beefeater guards and the ravens of London Tower.

4. Hampton Court Palace

Both Baroque and Tudor-designed Hampton Court Palace is composed almost entirely of regal brick, while its gardens are long, stylized, and maintained with a distinctly British sense of horticulture, hedge maze included. Henry VII left his mark here as well, and exhibits run for all those interested in the life and times of England’s notorious Tudor king.

5. Kew Palace

Kew Palace is probably known for its gardens as much so or more than it’s known for is architecture. Located in beautiful Richmond, the gumdrop hedges and vast walkways inspire association with Versailles and Marie Antoinette.

6. Kensington Palace

Once home to Princess Diana, Kensington Palace is smack dab in the middle of London. These days, the palace houses some of the lesser royalty, but that’s not saying Kensington Palace is of lesser charm. It is also currently undergoing a transformation: what was Kensington Palace, is now the Enchanted Palace – a makeover of royal proportions. Experience fashion, performance, and dazzling spectacle here.

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