With regal architecture, heritage boutiques crowned with the prestigious Royal Warrant and a clutch of royal residences flanked by immaculately tended public parks, strolling in the footsteps of royalty when visiting the British capital is perhaps inevitable. However, a more considered journey through the Royal Family’s London reveals many of the capital’s true highlights. Guided by the city’s rich imperial heritage, and informed the Royal Crest’s exacting tastes, allow us to introduce exclusive London of the Royal Family.
Of HM The Queen’s six official residences, Buckingham Palace is her London home. Each of the palace’s 19 State Rooms gleams with treasures, from Canova’s 2m-tall marble sculpture of Mars and Venus in the Grand Entrance to the 19th-century gilded grand piano in the White Drawing Room. The palace opens its doors to the public for 10 weeks every summer, inviting visitors to enjoy the opulent interiors of select rooms, but there’s plenty to see here year-round.
The Queen’s Gallery, for example, presents a consistent rotation of exhibitions curated from the vast wealth of the Royal Collection, comprising works by Old Masters, rare photographs and precious antiques. Flanking the palace, the Royal Mews is home to the Royal Family’s historic carriages. Time a visit for 11am to witness the pomp and pageantry of the Changing of the Guard. Watch as the New Guard—dressed smartly in ceremonial red coats and iconic bearskin hats—march to the palace to relieve the duty of the Old Guard.
A little further south, Kensington Gardens blankets 265 acres of central London with immaculate lawns and beautifully tended flower beds. It’s home to the Albert Memorial, unveiled in 1872 to commemorate the life and death of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband. Venture in a little deeper to discover a children’s wonderland at Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground, and cutting-edge contemporary art at the world-renowned Serpentine Gallery.
Within its tree-studded gardens, you’ll also find Kensington Palace, home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. Queen Victoria was born in this palace and lived here until she became the reigning monarch. Visitors are invited to explore the palace’s grand State Apartments and take a wander through the beautiful Sunken Garden. There’s also a compelling programme of British Royal Family-themed exhibitions for those wishing to learn more about the palace’s past and present residents.
A royal church and a World Heritage Site, Westminster Abbey is visited by around a million people every year and it’s easy to see why. From the staggering Gothic architecture to the David Hockney’s stained glass Queen’s Window, a saunter through these hallowed halls is an opportunity to take in hundreds of years of British royal history. Worshippers have been praying here since Benedictine monks founded the abbey in 960CE, but the church as it’s now known was established by Henry III in 1245. Since then, it’s seen coronations and the weddings of Elizabeth II and the now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and it’s the final resting place of 17 British monarchs, as well as thousands of remarkable Britons. Be sure to take a few moments of peace in the Abbey Gardens during your visit.
Across the river from the Abbey is the National Theatre. In addition to being one of Britain’s leading theatres and therefore a great addition to any London itinerary, the National Theatre is also a fixture for anyone looking to walk in the footsteps of the British Royal Family while in London. HM The Queen was the royal patron of the theatre for over 40 years, but she’s recently passed on the title to one of the newest members of the Royal Family, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. There are several bars and cafes to enjoy during your visit, and be sure to have a walk along the Southbank after the performance. The views out over London aren’t to be missed.
A little further from the centre, Dulwich Picture Gallery is a beautiful museum housing over 600 paintings, including masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt and Gainsborough. It’s easy to see why it’s a favourite of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. In addition to its rightly lauded permanent collection, the gallery also hosts a popular programme of contemporary exhibitions, as well as creative classes and inspired workshops.
Tuck into fine royal fare in The Dining Room at The Goring, just as Kate Middleton did before her spectacular wedding to Prince William in 2011. This Michelin-starred restaurant is renowned for serving quintessentially British cuisine within its impeccably decorated, elegant interiors. Dine here for breakfast, lunch or dinner, enjoying traditional favourites such as Loch Fyne kipper with poached Burford Brown egg and grilled tomatoes, and saddle of roe deer with salsify, creamed spelt, venison sausage. For an added imperial luxury, order a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut; Bollinger is one of the few Champagne houses awarded a Royal Warrant.
Speaking of Royal Warrants, the flagship store of Fortnum & Mason has been serving and selling luxury food and drink for around 300 years. It’s been beloved by the British Royal Family in London for a fair amount of that time, being the proud bearer of not one, but two of their prestigious crests. Visit to peruse the truffles and teas, chocolates and cheese, and more on offer in the Food Hall and pick up some delicious souvenirs to take home.
Another coveted Royal Warrant holder, Berry Bros. & Rudd is found on St James’s Street, which has long been a destination for the well-heeled to shop for luxury goods. Berry Bros. & Rudd is no exception, being Britain’s oldest fine wine and spirits merchant. Founded in 1698, it didn’t take long for this London stalwart to attract the attention of the British Royal Family. Indeed, its first royal customer was George III in 1760. Visit to peruse its spectacular collection of bottles or indulge in a tasting with the store’s knowledgeable sommelier.
Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the chocolate boxes, bars and truffles on gleaming display at Charbonnel et Walker. This historic boutique, found in the aptly-named Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street has the honour of providing handcrafted chocolates to HM The Queen. Its Marc de Champagne truffles are a particular highlight and have filled the royal bonbon jars since the 19th century.