God Save the Queen! An Anniversary Trip to London

photo by Scazon

The year 2012 marks the 60th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of England. The multi-national weekend celebration of her majesty’s reign, known as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, took place officially on June 2 – 5, during this time the Royal Family traveled throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Although the festivities have officially ended, a wealth of royal treasures remain in London, which all beg desperately to be explored. Are you considering a getaway that promises to be truly regal in nature? This article will explore some of London’s most majestic destinations and the remarkable histories behind them.

The Changing of the Guard

No trip to London would ever be complete without bearing witness to the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Known as the Queen’s Guard, this infantry of soldiers is responsible for guarding both Buckingham and St. James’s Palace. The changing of the guard is a lively ceremony, which takes place in the Palace’s forecourt around 11 a.m., typically lasting about 45 minutes. From April to July, the guard is generally changed daily and every other day from August to March. The schedule is subject to change, so it’s best to do your research ahead of time, if you plan on witnessing this royal tradition.

The Queen’s Gallery

Within Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s Gallery, a permanent exhibit of changing pieces from the Royal Collection. The Royal Collection is one of the world’s largest art collections, consisting of more than one million objects, collected by various kings and queens over the past 500 years. Currently on display is the largest ever collection of Leonardo DaVinci’s anatomical studies. The Gallery typically opens at 10 a.m. daily, though blackout dates have been set during the months of October and December. You can confirm the dates, times and prices of your visit by going to the Gallery’s official website.

Westminster Abbey

The Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster, which is much better known as Westminster Abbey, has had a longstanding relationship with British royalty over the course of the 700 years of its storied existence. Since 1066, Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church of the monarchy; the church has received support from numerous kings and queens and was the premier royal burial ground for some 500 years. The church is what’s known as a “Royal Peculiar,” meaning it falls under the jurisdiction of the monarchy, rather than that of the bishop. The church is visited by more than one million tourists each year, open to the public everyday but Sunday, which is reserved for (of course) worship.

Windsor Castle

At nearly 1,000 years old and spanning about 13 acres, Windsor Castle is both the world’s oldest and biggest inhabited castle. Her Majesty the Queen continues to use Windsor Castle as a weekend retreat. Windsor castle includes state apartments (furnished from the Royal Collection), Queen Mary’s dollhouse (completed in 1924, known for its exquisite detail— it even has functional plumbing), St. George’s Chapel (the resting place of ten monarchs) and the Drawings Gallery. Through October of this year, Windsor Castle’s Drawings Gallery will exhibit “The Queen: Sixty Photographs for Sixty Years” in honor of the Queen’s jubilee.

The Royal Opera House

For years, Queen Elizabeth II has been associated with the Royal Opera House. In 1939, she visited for the first time as a princess for a performance of “Little Red Riding Hood.” The Royal Opera House has celebrated numerous occasions with the Royal Family and is hosting a Diamond Jubilee Exhibition through July 24. The free exhibition makes mention of Queen Victoria, who in 1887, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. Make the most of your Royal Opera House visit by exploring an exhibition, taking a backstage tours, or—of course—going to a performance!

Ready to visit? Booking flights to London is now more convenient than ever:  your royal adventure may be just a click away!

This article was written by Allen Chronister.  Allen is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast currently residing in New Zealand.


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