London is myriad of tradition and cutting-edge contemporary.
The latter changes constantly, which keeps the city fresh as the former draws many tourists to centuries-old sites.
Among the most popular are those connected with the British Monarchy.
Few in the world do pomp and ceremony as grand, or with such style, as the British.
Whether you are a dyed in the wool Brit royalista or just mildly curious, London offers plenty of places where kings and queens past, present and future have lived, loved and even lost some of their heads. So drop your spinner luggage at the hotel and hit the streets: there’s a lot to see!
Start with the current Queen, Elizabeth II, and her London abode – Buckingham Palace.
For the hugely popular Changing of the Guard, stake your spot early around the imposing gates, especially during spring and summer’s high tourism season.
Officially scheduled for 11:30 a.m., the activity begins fifteen minutes earlier with the sound of approaching music. The subsequent sight of a mounted and marching regiment wearing impressive warm weather scarlet or winter gray woolen uniforms with towering bear-skinned hats or gleaming metal helmets is sure to stir the soul of the most curmudgeonly of tourists.
From April to August, the event occurs daily. During the rest of the year it happens on odd or even days, depending on the month.
A variety of “Buck House” tours are available during the spring, summer and fall.
The odds of running into the Queen are slim. However, if her Royal Standard flies over the Palace, her Majesty is in the house. Should your paths cross, remember to call her “Ma’am” as rhymes with “ham.” The bow or curtsy is optional.
Nearby Clarence House, the official home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, also offers summer tours.
Since the mid 17th century Kensington Palace has housed monarchs from William and Mary to the late Princess Diana and her sons. It was the birthplace of Victoria. At age 18 she awoke to discover her status had changed from “Princess” to “Queen”. Her historic bedroom is part of the State Apartments’ tour.
For the budget-minded royal watcher, the entrance to the Palace’s Sunken Garden is free. The garden features an array of botanical wonders season after season.
Westminster Abbey has served as the site for coronations since 1066. Seventeen royals rest eternally within its 13th century Gothic walls.
If the Abbey’s interior looks familiar, it is because it was here that the recent nuptials between Prince William and Princess Catherine occurred.
The Tower of London was the final residence, and not by choice, for such monarchs as Anne Boleyn, Henry VI and Lady Jane Gray.
Many tourists visit during the day to see attractions like the famed Crown Jewels.
For a truly authentic royal rendezvous, plan ahead, up to three months in advance, and request free tickets to the nighttime Ceremony of the Keys.
Every night for over 700 years, except once during the London Blitz of World War II, the Tower has been locked up exactly at 9:53 p.m. by its Chief Yeoman Warder and military units like the Welsh Guard. Held in semi-darkness and surrounded by looming castle walls, the Ceremony of the Keys is an event that few witnesses ever forget.
While not within London’s city boundaries, both Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace are easy day trips.
Trains out of both Paddington and Victoria Stations or taking the Green Bus Line are popular modes of transportation to Windsor. The Royal Family is frequently here on weekends.
Hampton Court Palace’s royal roots date from Henry VIII. It can be reached by train out of Waterloo and various bus routes from central London.
If you have the time, approximately four hours, travel like a Tudor up the river Thames. Board a riverboat from Westminster Pier adjacent to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
By bringing the Samsonite Cosmolite to London, feel free to hit each royal attraction’s gift shop like you have the wallet of a Windsor. The bag has plenty of room to pack souvenirs from tiaras, thimbles and a tea set or two. Its revolutionary Curv® technology means nary a crumpet or tin of toffee will get crushed during your travels.
We think the Queen would approve.
Spinner Luggage uses a 4 wheel system that take the lug out of luggage. LuggageBase.com has Cosmolite spinner luggage from Samsonite, and similar offerings from American Tourister Luggage, Travelpro, and Atlantic luggage.