Discover all things regal with our ultimate guide to London's royal attractions. Uncover the rich history and cultural significance behind the majestic iconic landmarks as you immerse yourself inside their captivating stories. Our listicle includes sites from the very first King of England, William the Conquerer, who built the Tower of London in the early 1080s - up until present day and King Charles III's royal residence at Buckingham Palace.
Join us for a little travel through time and walk in the footsteps of the Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain!
Tower of London
In the 1070s, William the Conqueror (1066-1087 reign) began building a massive stone fortress on the banks of the River Thames to defend and proclaim his royal power. Over the course of almost 1000 years, its walls have witnessed the trials and tribulations of every royal monarch since.
Serving as a royal residence, prison, garrison, armoury, and even a menageire, the Tower of London offers visitors the chance to stand on the same spot of ground of the intriguing fascinating stories spanning a millennium of England's history. Marvel at the Crown Jewels and walk the same halls as Henry VIII's doomed wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard as they awaited their executions.
Visit THE TOWER OF LONDON
The chapter house of Westminster Abbey was built between 1250 and 1259. Since that time it has been the backdrop for coronations, royal weddings, and solemn ceremonies. Today visitors can feel the weight of history in every stone of this architectural marvel.
The Lady Chapel is a glorious example of medieval architecture with a spectacular fan-vaulted ceiling. It is the burial place of fifteen kings and queens including Elizabeth I, Mary I, Mary Queen of Scots and what is thought to be the remains of Edward V and Richard Duke of York, the "Princes in the Tower".
The Royal Tombs area of the Abbey is the final resting place of 30 kings and queens starting with King Edward the Confessor. And Poets' Corner commemmorates Britains's greatest literary figures including Chaucer, William Shakespeare, and Lord Byron.
In popular culture: In 2022, it was announced that the Abbey had given rare permission for filming inside the church for the untitled eighth Mission: Impossible film.
Visit WESTMINSTER ABBEY
The Banqueting House
In 1622, King James the First (1603-1625) built the current Banqueting House. It is the only large surviving component of the Palace of Whitehall, the residence of English monarchs from 1530 to 1698.
It is the stunning ceiling that makes the site worth visiting. Painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, the masterpiece glorifies the the birth of King James the First. At the end of the English Civil War, the victorious Parliamentarians selected this site for the execution of King Charles I - a pointed remark against the mceiling's depiction of the divine right of kings.
Visit the BANQUETING HOUSE.
Before visiting the Banqueting House, we recommend downloading our immersive audiovisual walking tour "Death of a King: The Path to Execution" written by Lord Charles Spencer and narrated by Anthony Howell. It begins at St. James's Palace and ends at the Banqueting House.
Imagine a chilly day in late January 1649, and a carriage with a gold crest on its doors arrives at the gatehouse of St. James's Palace. It is carrying an eight-year-old boy and his thirteen-year-old sister. They are Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Princess Elizabeth, two of Charles the First’s children.
But, this is no happy royal or family visit. For, in a unique moment in English history, the king has recently been condemned to death, and these children have been brought to London to say their final goodbyes to their father.
Escorted by a regiment of 1200 men, King Charles the First is paraded from St. James’s Palace, through St. James’s Park and onto Whitehall, where his executioner awaits.
Walk in the footsteps of the condemned King as you learn about the events that ultimately led to this remarkable renunciation of the Divine Right of Kings and stand witness to his final words as the axe falls. APP STORE & GOOGLE PLAY.
"A magical tour...brilliantly written. It weaves you into its story and you are spellbound, watching the decline, fall and execution of the King - and you can’t do anything to stop it."
-Kate Williams, CNN royal historian & New York Times bestselling author
Kew Palace & Gardens
Kew Palace is the smallest British royal palace and stands within the grounds of Kew Gardens on the banks of the River Thames. It was originally built in 1631 by wealthy London silk merchant Samuel Fortrey. In the 1720s, King Geogre II (1727-1760) and his wife Caroline took lease of Kew as a lodging for their three eldest daughters. It ended up becoming a place for the entire family to live a more private life unencumbered by the trappings of ceremony.
Kew Palace continued to be a favored place for the Georgia Royalty. It's tranquil setting and seclusion became the ideal location for King George III (1760-1820) to find refuge during periods when he was believed to have gone mad. It was here that a team of doctors desperately tried to cure him.
Visit KEW PALACE.
The Queen's House - Greenwich
The Queen's House is a former royal residence built between 1616 and 1635 near the now demolished Greenwich Palace. It was commissioned by Queen Anne of Denmark, the wife of King James I and finished by her successor, Henrietta Marie, the wife of her son, King Charles I.
It was always intended as a place to display artworks that they had accumulated and commissioned including a ceiling of the Great Hall that features a work by Orazio Gentileschi (the father of Artemesia Gentileschi). However, following the English Civil War in 1642, court culture was no longer in fashion and much of the house was dismantled.
Today, the Queen's House is the central focus of the Old Royal Naval College with a grand vista leading to the River Thames. An art gallery and site for concerts and exhibitions, the former royal residence is worth a visit.
Visit THE QUEEN'S HOUSE
Hampton Court Palace
The favored residence of King Henry VIII (1509-1547), Hampton Court Palace is a sprawling estate that allows viistors to step back in time to an era of opulence and intrigue. In addition to seeing life in the 16th Century Tudor Court through its magnificent Great Hall, the haunted gallery, and the kitchens, viistors can walk through the spectacular baroque style residences built for William III (1689-1702) and Mary II (1689-1698).
The Gardens are a must-see as well - particularly the palace hedge maze that has baffled visitors for over three centuries. Commissioned by William III, visitors can get lost in its intricate twists and turns, experiencing a whimsical side of royal life.
Visit HAMPTON COURT PALACE
Kensington Palace & Gardens
In 1689, the newly crowned monarchs, William III and Mary II chose a small villa known as Nottingham House to become their country retreat. They commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to draw up plans for what would become Kensington Palace.
William and Mary used the palace's new ornate rooms to host lavish balls and entertain ambassadors and foreign princes. Although th parties abruptly came to a halt when Mary died from smallpox in 1694. Over the next century the palace came in and out of fashion dependednt on the tastes of the ruling monarch.
In the early 1800s Kensington Palace became home to the future Queen Victoria. Becoming Queen at the age of 18, she held her first Privy Council meeting in the Red Saloon. In modern history, Kensington has been home to the Prince and Princess of Wales following their wedding in 1981. Their sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, grew up there.
Visit KENSINGTON PALACE
After your visit to the Palace we recommend downloading our immersive audiovisual walking tour of Kensington Gardens "Tales of a Mistress in the Georgian Court". It is written by Joint Chief Curator for the Historic Royal Palaces, Tracy Borman and narrated by Flora Montgomery (The Corwn, Endeavor).
"Good day to you and welcome to Kensington Gardens. It is the year 1734 and King George II reigns over England. Kensington Palace is the center of court and its gardens are the place to be seen.
"Forgive me, but before we progress, I must ensure that you are dressed appropriately. You do not want to suffer the humiliation of being turned away by His Majesty’s gatekeepers for not being of sufficiently genteel appearance.
"I am Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, Mistress of the Robes to Queen Caroline and, er, companion to her husband, King George II. You might say I serve two masters, although in very different ways. But more of that later. For now, let us enjoy the gardens."
Step inside the true Tales of a Mistress as you stroll through the park with the King's longest serving mistress and delight in her knowledge of the gardens as well as her intimate familiarity with life in the Georgian Court. Available in the APP STORE & GOOGLE PLAY.
"Tracy Borman has written a fabulous experience. Brings the Georgian Gardens back to life. Full of fascinating details on the Georgian period. I loved it!”
Dr. Elizabeth Norton, historian and author
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British Monarch and has been since the day Queen Victoria moved in shortly after her accession in 1837. And no royal tour of London is complete without a visit. While interior tours are limited, witnessing the grandeur of the Changing of the Guard ceremony is worth the crowds.
Visit BUCKINGHAM PALACE's extravagant State Rooms which are open to visitors each summer, and on selected dates for Exclusive Guided Tours during winter and spring. The summer dates for 2024 are 11 July to 29 September 2024.
ENJOY YOUR ROYAL REVELERY IN LONDON!
BARDEUM offers self-guided audio/visual tours via mobile app. These immersive experiences are written by award-winning & bestselling authors, journalists, and historians.