May is the month to celebrate royalty this year with the recent birth of Prince Louis and the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Learn more about the royals and tour the palaces they call home.
Buckingham Palace was bought by George III as a London home for his wife Queen Charlotte, but the palace didn’t officially became a royal residence until Queen Victoria’s reign. Today it is still the primary residence of the monarch and plays venue to state occasions such as the Queens Birthday and Trooping the Colour each year. Visitors can tour the state rooms from the end of July through September as well as select dates during the Winter and Spring. You also won’t want to miss the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Windsor Castle in London is the largest occupied castle in the World and has been a royal residence of 39 monarchs since the 11th century. The Queen is in official residence for Easter Court during the months of March and April and hosts the Order of the Garter events here every June. The castle is also used for state visits for overseas dignitaries and the annual State Banquet. St.George’s Chapel on the grounds will be the venue for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding later this month. Many areas of the property are open to the public year-round and the Changing of the Guard ceremony is held here when the Queen is in official residence at the castle.
St. James’s Palace
The Palace, built by Henry VIII, was formerly the primary residence of the monarch in London for over 300 years until Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace. The castle grounds are the location of the Court of St. James and the London residences of the Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra. Clarence House, home of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall is located adjacent to the palace. St. James’ Palace is also a primary venue for many of the receptions for charities in which members of the royal family are involved, approximately 100 each year. The main palace is closed to the public but the adjoining Queen’s Chapel is open select dates throughout the year and Clarence House is open for public tours during the month of August.
Kensington Palace was a favorite residence of its builder William III and successive British monarchs through 1760. It was also the childhood home of Queen Victoria. Kensington Palace is currently the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and other members of the royal family. Historic areas of the palace and the gardens are open to the public. The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, various exhibits housed at the palace and the Albert Memorial located on the grounds are also available for tours.
Palace of Holyrood House
Holyrood House is the Queen’s official residence located in Edinburgh, Scotland and the current palace has been home to the Kings and Queens of Scots since it was built by James IV in the 16th century. The Queen takes up residence in the castle for a week at the beginning of each summer where she carries out official engagements. The palace is open daily except when members of the royal family are in residence. Visitors to Holyrood often enjoy pairing a tour of the palace with a visit to the Queen’s Gallery.
Hillsborough Castle is the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland and home to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as HM the Queen’s official representative in Northern Ireland. The castle was originally built as a country estate by the Marquess of Downshire in the 1770s. The Marquesses of Downshire owned the estate until 1922 when they sold it to the Crown, providing a royal residence in Northern Ireland which had only recently been formed in 1920. The grounds of the caste feature 100 acres of impressive ornamental gardens, waterways, woodlands and rare plants which are undergoing an extensive five-year restoration project. The castle and gardens will reopen to the public July 2018 for guided tours.