England’s royal lands stretch from West London to Gloucestershire, along a motorway that runs past London’s main airport, Heathrow.
In West London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has always been a favourite of Britain’s most famous family, thanks to its posh shopping (Harrods), chic restaurants and clubs (including an outpost of Mahiki, once famous for serving a treasure chest cocktail that Prince Harry was partial to) and elegant streets.
Further from the tight terraced houses of West London is the Royal County of Berkshire on the fringes on the city, home to Windsor Castle and Ascot Racecourse, which hosts Royal Ascot over five days in June. The royal lands get more rural still when you continue west to Gloucestershire, with its regal links to horses, hunting and polo.
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This posh Belgravia hotel around the corner from Buckingham Palace has been a favourite with the royals for decades. The Duchess of Cambridge spent her last night as a commoner in the sumptuous art deco Royal Suite before marrying William. Many of the die-hard revellers piled back to the hotel for an after-party when celebrations at Buckingham Palace came to a close. For a more regal experience, visit for afternoon tea or try the famous Eggs Drumkilbo, a concoction of lobster and eggs once favoured by the Queen Mother.
Go for the pizzas and karaoke, stay for the celebrity spotting at this kitsch restaurant/nightclub/beach bar. Harry and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie are big fans; as is the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, who used to date owner Charlie Gilkes. Once you master the Bunga Bunga dance (check the menu for a simple diagram) sashay your way across all three storeys of this Italian-themed funhouse, where you’re as likely to be entertained by an Elvis impersonator as a drag queen.
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This 17th century Jacobean retreat on the fringes of Hyde Park has lodged many a newly married royal couple in luxury over the centuries – it was also William and Harry’s childhood home. Nottingham Cottage, the former home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is where newlyweds Harry and Meghan will officially begin married life. Take a tour of the King’s State Apartments to experience the courtly lifestyle in all its eye-popping glory. If you’re a dedicated follower of fashion, don’t miss Diana: Her Fashion Story, a dazzling exhibition of the late princess’s most iconic garments.
The Queen’s weekend retreat and the oldest castle in the world, Windsor has housed 39 monarchs since it was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. One of the biggest draws for visitors is the Dolls’ House, a miniature marvel designed in the 1920s for Queen Mary and filled with exquisite pieces crafted on a scale of 1:12. On 19 May, all eyes will be on St George’s Chapel for Harry and Meghan’s big day. The gothic masterpiece is also the final resting place for 10 kings of England, including Henry VIII.
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For more than 30 years, Prince Charles has been transforming the gardens of this Georgian estate in Gloucestershire, taking inspiration from Victorian techniques and English horticultural heritage. Drink in the tranquillity on a garden tour with an expert guide and stock up on bottles of Highgrove gin and jars of honey produced by the prince’s very own bees.
The royal family and horses go together like an English summer day and a jug of Pimm’s. Anne, the Princess Royal, and her daughter Zara Phillips are skilled riders and at their shared country estate you can watch one of the summer’s most prestigious equestrian events. At the Festival of British Eventing , top riders and horses compete in dressage, show jumping and cross-country, so grab your tweed and a pair of green wellies to join the well-heeled crowds.
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