Interest in the British Royal Family remains at its peak, specially with the announcement of the Duchess of Cambridge’s (A.K.A. Kate Middleton) pregnancy. It’s Catherine’s third child after Prince George and Princess Charlotte, and royal observers consider it as a pivot away from the British royal family’s tradition of having only two kids.
With the pound at an all-time low, this is the best time to book flights to London and soak up the royal fever by visiting Buckingham and Kensington Palaces. More than just getting a selfie with these palaces as backdrops, it’s also a great way to understand the history and heritage of the storied House of Windsor.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh reside and work at Buckingham Palace, which was first built in the 17th century. The Queen and Prince Philip live at the northern section of the Palace, while the ground floor and the southern section serve as the quarters for the staff.
The grand residence located in the city of Westminster attracts 50,000 guests every year and hosts a number of social events such as the Diplomatic Reception, attended by representatives from 130 countries.
Previous residents of the palace include Queen Victoria, who happens to be the first monarch to rule from Buckingham; and her beloved consort Prince Albert. King George VI (the last emperor of India and the stuttering monarch immortalized in the film The King’s Speech) and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother lived there as well.
See the exhibit “Royal Gifts: Arts and Crafts from Around the World,” which will showcase the unique trinkets given to Queen Elizabeth II. Standouts include those gifted by former United States president Dwight D. Eisenhower and former South African president Nelson Mandela.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Princess of Wales Diana’s death, and as a tribute, the Music Room will have her personal items such as her ballet shoes and Kensington Palace desk.
Buckingham will be open only from now October 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are US$30 for adults.
The official home of William, Kate, their children, and Prince Harry, the palace is located at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. Originally a Jacobean mansion built in 1605, this is also known as the birthplace of Queen Victoria and the official home of Diana.
Expect to see ongoing exhibits such as “Diana: Her Fashion Story,” a showcase of the late royal’s wardrobe. The collection includes the memorable ink blue velvet gown by Victor Edelstein that she wore when she danced with actor John Travolta at the White House.
Worth seeing too is the Sunken Garden, which, for this year, was turned into the White Garden to pay tribute to the princess. Many of Diana’s portraits showed her wearing white outfits, and the color served as the inspiration behind the garden’s theme. Tulips and forget-me-nots were planted, as well as daisies and ornamental grasses.
Be sure to also check out “Enlightened Princesses,” a look into the lives of three Germanic princesses—Caroline, Augusta, and Charlotte—who married into the British Royal Family in the 18th century. (The British Royal Family is of Germanic descent. Their original name is Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until anti-German sentiment forced George V to change it to Windsor.)
These princesses made huge contributions to the advancement of science and medicine, and were also involved in charity work. On display are 200 objects from the Royal Collection, Yale Center for British Art, and the royal collections of Denmark and the Netherlands.
Get tickets for US$20.43 (adults). Kensington Palace is open to the public on Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.