If there’s one royal thing that you must do in London, it’s a trip to the Buckingham Palace.
It’s not just the Queen’s official London residence since 1837, but also where ceremonials and official occasions are usually held at.
During summer, you’ll get to tour the State Rooms when the Queen travels to Balmoral (Scotland). Keep a lookout for the many works of art from the Royal Collection on display at the 19 rooms, especially the Grand Ballroom and the White Drawing Room where there’s a secret door through which the Queen accesses her private apartments.
A combined ticket will also allow you to visit the Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery. Open all year round, The Queen’s Gallery houses about 450 works at any one time. You’ll find changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection featuring ornate jewellery, rare furniture and old master paintings, for instance.
After your gallery tour, don’t forget to visit The Royal Mews too. The finest working stable in the world, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the two kinds of carriage horses: the Windsor Greys that draw the carriages of the Queen and other royals, along with the Cleveland Bays that are used for high commissioners and ambassadors.
While you’re here, be sure to witness the 45-minute guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace at 11.30am daily during summer and on alternate days in winter. Open to the public for free, it is definitely one of the most elaborate shift changes you’ll ever see. Every day, the new Guard comes from Wellington Barracks, on the side of St. James Park, taking over from the Queen’s Guard on duty at Buckingham Palace and St. James Palace.
You can also catch the Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade for the Mounted Cavalry at 11am, from Monday to Saturday, and 10am on Sundays. This guard exchange is slightly shorter, taking only 30 minutes for the full ceremony. There’s also the Dismounting Ceremony when the Household Cavalry brings the horses back in at 4pm.
Whichever ceremony you might be interested in, just make sure to be there early and grab a good viewing spot before the crowds come, especially in summer.
Foodie Tip: Need refuelling after all that activity? Drop by Bocca di Lupo for authentic Italian flavours that is just minutes away from the Buckingham Palace. It’s also rumoured to be a favourite of Meghan Markle. Be sure to try their fried lamp chop, which is said to be one of the best in London.
A 1-minute Tube ride from Green Park
Address: 12 Archer Street, Soho
Opening Hours: 12pm-3pm, 5pm-11pm (Mon-Sat), 12pm-3pm, 5pm-9.30pm (Sun)
Shopping Tip: Stop by King’s Road for a quick shopping spree. A major high-end street that stretches through Chelsea and Fulham, Meghan Markle has been spotted shopping among the many designer boutiques here such as beachwear store Heidi Klein.
An 18-minute bus ride from Green Park / Constitution Hill (Stop E)
This was where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married in 2011, and also where Princess Diana’s funeral took place in 1997. A Coronation Church with over 1,000 years of history, look out for the various memorials of historical figures such as Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare. You’ll also find the tombs of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin resting within the church. This is sure to be a treat for all history buffs!
Foodie Tip: Drop by The Brown Cow for a gastropub experience amid rustic decor. Owned by Prince Harry’s pal, Mark Dyer, both the British princes have been known to celebrate their special occasions here. If there’s one thing you need to try, it’s their signature scotch eggs.
A 17-minute bus ride from Gt Smith St / Westminster Abbey (Stop V)
Address: 676 Fulham Road, Fulham
Opening Hours: 12pm-11pm (Sun-Thu), 12pm-12am (Fri-Sat)