TALES FROM THE ROYAL VAULTS
This walk is your opportunity to explore the streets of Royal London and discover everything you ever wanted to know about the British Monarchy but were afraid to ask!
Packed full of fascinating facts and revealing anecdotes about kings, queens, princesses and princes, the Royal London Tour offers you a quirky roller coaster of a ride through 1,000 years of Royal London – its traditions, ceremonies and gossip.
Directly across the road from where the walk begins is the New Palace of Westminster (better known the world over as the Houses of Parliament).
Although now the home of our democratic Parliament this is still, technically, a Royal Palace, and has been since at least the reign of the Danish King Cnut (1016-1035). In those days the area where the Houses of Parliament now stand was an inhospitable and marshy island known as Thorney Island.
Edward the Confessor’s First Royal Palace
It was, however, with the accession to the throne of Edward the Confessor in 1042 that the island truly came into its own.
One of his first acts on coming to the throne was to order the construction of a magnificent new abbey on Thorney Island, and he called this Abbey the West Minster. He also set about building a neighbouring palace in order that he could keep an eye on the building progress of his new Abbey. Edward only just managed to live long enough to see his dream reach fruition in 1065, as he died in early 1066 and was buried in his newly completed church in 1066, becoming the first of many monarchs to be laid to rest here.
William the Conqueror’s Coronation
He was succeeded on the throne of England by King Harold who, in October 1066, was defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings by William of Normandy who, on Christmas Day 1066, became the first monarch to be crowned in the Abbey, since when, with very few exceptions, every King and Queen of England has been crowned here.
Henry V111′s Whitehall Palace
Having explored the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey externally (we don’t actually go inside them on the tour), and having detailed some of the eventful things that have occurred inside both of them, we move on to locate the only remaining section of Whitehall Palace.
This truly magnificent palace was originally built by Cardinal Wolsey, and he lived here in palatial splendour, until he fell out with King Henry V111 and was forced to surrender it to the monarch. Just over a hundred years later, following the English Civil War, in 1649 Charles 1st was beheaded outside the part of the Palace you will see on the tour.
Onwards and forwards to Buckingham Palace
From here we cross Horse Guards Parade, passing the sentries on horseback who guard this entrance to the Royal Palaces. You will get a glimpse of the back of 10 Downing Street, home to the British Prime minister, before crossing St James’s Park to gaze upon Buckingham Palace.
Here you will hear gossipy tales about the Royals who have lived here since it became the home of Queen Victoria on her accession to the throne in 1837.
St James Palace – HQ of the Monarch
Via Clarence House, former home of the late Queen Mother and now home to Prince Charles and Camilla, the tour wends it way to St James’s Palace, the oldest of London’s Royal Palaces and still, officially, the headquarters of the monarchy.
Having taken in a line of exclusive shops that have been supplying wine, hats and shoes to several generations of various members of the Royal family for centuries, the walk will end at the second oldest pub in the West End where you can, if you wish, rub shoulders with some of those who actually work for the present Royal family.
All in all, the Royal London walk promises you a fascinating stroll during which you will see some fantastic sights, learn some intriguing facts and hear a goodly amount of gossip and anecdote concerning Royals through the ages.