Six Ways To Have A Royally Good Time In Britain

15 February 2018

With Netflix's sumptuous award-winning drama The Crown making waves, and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle edging ever closer, interest in the British royals is as strong as ever. You can enjoy a slice of the royal life at various spots across Britain.

Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia The Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed at Leith, Edinburgh is now a five-star visitor attraction. Image: VisitBritain/VisitScotland

Built in Scotland's Clydebank shipyards, this was the royals' floating home for over 40 years and carried Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to Australia to open the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Since being decommissioned in 1997, it's permanently berthed at Edinburgh's port of Leith. Hop aboard and discover what life was like on the yacht with the help of an audio guide. You can take tea and scones – or sip Champagne – in the boat's Royal Deck Tea Room, a glass-enclosed sun deck that staged many a royal drinks reception.

Buckingham Palace

guards outside buckingham palace A crowd favourite, the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Image: VisitBritain/Pawel Libera

For 10 weeks each northern summer (and on selected dates in spring and winter), the doors of The Queen's official London residence are flung open to the public. You can tour the lavishly-appointed State Rooms, where the royals receive and entertain their guests. Highlights include the enormous ballroom completed during the reign of Queen Victoria, and the Throne Room used for the coronation ceremony of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1953. To avoid the biggest crowds, join one of the exclusive small-group evening tours of the State Rooms and the Queen's Gallery, which displays priceless art such as masterpieces from the 18th century Venetian painter, Canaletto. 

Sandringham House and gardens

Sandringham House, Norfolk, United Kingdom Sandringham House in Norfolk has been a country retreat since 1870. Image: Getty

The royals – including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – spend Christmas and New Year at this idyllic north Norfolk retreat. Hedged by gorgeously-landscaped gardens, Sandringham House is open to the public six months a year (March 31-October 21, 2018). Mosey round a property decorated with elegant Edwardian furniture, art gifted from European royalty and oriental gems gleaned from the Far East and India, then peruse vintage royal vehicles in the former coach houses and stable block. This is all part of the Sandringham Estate, which comprises 8,000 hectares of farmland, forestry and country park. The estate's woodland trails are open year-round and you can glimpse Park House, birthplace of Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales.

Horse riding at Windsor

Windsor Castle, United Kingdom The Long Walk, Windsor Great Park, with Windsor Castle in the distance. Image: VisitBritain/Doug Harding

Aged 91, The Queen was recently photographed horse riding in Windsor Great Park, a sprawling expanse of lush grassland and ancient oak forests where deer roam freely. If you fancy saddling up yourself, seek out Tally Ho! Stables, which run horse riding trips here for all skill levels. The park fringes Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Originally built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror above the River Thames, the castle is open for public tours throughout the year, apart from on special occasions, such as when The Queen hosts official state visits for overseas leaders. 

Salmon fishing in the Scottish Highlands

Men fishing for salmon in Scotland If you don't make it to the River Dee, Scotland has many more to choose from, such as the River Deveron, above. Image: Getty

Now retired from public life, Prince Philip spends some of his days fly-fishing for trout and salmon on the River Dee, which flows through Balmoral Estate, a favourite summer getaway for the royals since Queen Victoria's time. From April until the end of July, members of the public can rent fishing 'beats' along the river, along with the services of a ghillie (an expert local guide often dressed in tartan attire). Break up the fishing with a tour of beautiful Balmoral Castle and Gardens. 

Royal-approved pampering and shopping

interior of Truefitt & Hill barber salon Not your average barber salon... the decadent Truefitt & Hill. Image: Truefitt & Hill

Saunter along London's Saint James's Street and pop into Truefitt & Hill for a trim. The world's oldest barber shop bears a royal warrant from The Duke of Edinburgh, one of its many celebrity patrons. A five-minute stroll away, on Piccadilly, is another establishment with a royal stamp of approval. Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason is a luxury department store that sells premium food from Britain and abroad, including luxury hampers, homeware, herbs and spices. It has been nicknamed 'The Queen's Grocer' and, in 2012, Her Majesty opened the store's new Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon to mark her 60th year on the throne.

Tea salon at Fortnum & Mason Channel your inner Queen and take tea at Fortnum & Mason. Image: Fortnum & Mason

 


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Steve McKenna

A regular contributor to some of Australia's leading newspapers and travel magazines, Steve McKenna has visited, written about and photographed more than 80 countries on six different continents. He fears he has an incurable case of wanderlust and is particularly fond of Europe, Asia and South America.