For those who love the mystery and the magic of the Royal Family, let's take a walk in their shoes.
It's those Royal footsteps. Whether they just left the room or trod the flagstones centuries ago, there are some places where the Royal presence itself just seems timeless.
Here is a collection of royal visits, both present residences of Her Majesty and places where the echoes of royal footsteps past still resonate today.
Buckingham Palace, London
Royal Family general headquarters, Buckingham Palace is Her Majesty’s office and residence in the capital. A regal visit, indeed. The public areas of the palace are only open for viewing when the Queen is on summer holidays in Scotland. There is no question, however, that here you are indeed in “Royal Central.”
Windsor Castle, Windsor
On weekends, Her Majesty generally repairs upriver about 20 miles to Windsor Castle, Royal residence since the time of William the Conqueror and the largest occupied castle in the world. It takes a good half day to visit the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, St. George’s Chapel, and such.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
In Scotland’s capital, the Queen’s official residence is the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the eastern end of Edinburgh’s famed Royal Mile. While Her Majesty is only in residence for a couple of weeks in the early summer, Holyrood remains a palace fit for a queen—be it Queen Elizabeth II or Mary, Queen of Scots.
Even royalty need to escape to a place of their own once in a while. For the Queen, that would be Sandringham—not a Royal residence, but a private Windsor family country home. Open much of the year if the Royal family is not in the neighborhood, it is a homey, rural 19th-century residence and traditional country estate that is on view.
Here is regal country life, up close and personal. The home of the late Lord Mountbatten was a honeymoon retreat for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as well as Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Broadlands remains among the most personal and livable of great country homes open to the public.
Leeds Castle, Kent
Leeds has been called “the loveliest castle in the world” and might deserve it. Set on two islands in the River Len in the countryside of Kent surrounded by parkland, the original 12th-century castle and 500 years of royal history are hidden behind the present 1823 Tudor reincarnation of the stately residence.
Stirling Castle, Stirling
Mounted on the crags of a rocky outcrop, Stirling Castle is rather the antithesis to Leeds idyllic setting. The wild highlands, the Grampian east and the Scottish lowlands melded at this historic fortress of Scotland’s Stuart kings. The castle is the centerpiece of medieval Scottish history—and feels it.
Kensington Palace, London
A royal residence for generations and the London home of Prince William and family, Kensington Palace sits at the west end of Kensington Gardens, a gem tucked away from the bustle of the West End. Open daily with revolving current exhibitions and lunch in the Orangery restaurant.
Hampton Court Palace, London
Upriver from the deleterious aspects of congested London life, Hampton Court was made a royal retreat when Henry VIII coerced it from Cardinal Woolsey. It reflects the Tudor monarchy more than any other but was a principal residence of William and Mary. Don’t miss the Tudor kitchens, or the ghosts or gardens.
Hever Castle, Sevenoaks
No monarch ever resided here, but King Henry VIII often visited to court Anne Boleyn. The castle remains picture-book Renaissance in every way, replete with a moat, Elizabethan gardens, maze, and pergola. Furnishings are much of the period and the Long Gallery is a Tudor history exhibition.
* Originally published in Mar 2016.