A royal outing: 10 of the best royal palaces, castles and houses to visit in Britain

From Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle – our pick of the 10 best royal palaces, castles and houses to visit in Britain

25th May 2018
 the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor

To celebrate 65 years since Her Majesty The Queen's coronation, and the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle, our pick of 10 of the best royal palaces, castles and houses to visit in Britain

1. Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Windsor Castle
The long walk with Windsor Castle in the background, Windsor, Berkshire/Credit: Getty

Windsor is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. An official residence for Her Majesty the Queen, and venue for the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The original site of Windsor Castle was chosen and built by William the Conqueror in around 1070 to guard the western approach to London from a potential attack.

Open all year round to the public, visit www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle

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2. Buckingham Palace, Westminster

Buckingham Palace in early morning sunlight, reflected in the water of the Victoria Memorial. London
Buckingham Palace in early morning sunlight, reflected in the water of the Victoria Memorial. London/Credit: Getty

The official residence of the Queen and one of Britain’s most recognised historic sites, Buckingham palace is often used for national celebrations and events. Buckingham House was bought in 1761 by George III for his wife Queen Charlotte.  

Buckingham Palace is open to the public during the summer months and for a limited number of tours in December, January and at Easter each year. Find out more about visiting the Palace on the Royal Collection Trust website.

 

3. Clarence House, London

Clarence house
A guard outside Clarence House in London/Credit: Getty

Built in 1825-27 by John Nash for George III’s for his third son, Prince William Henry. Clarence House was used by The Queen Mother until 2002. It is now the official London residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

Clarence House is open to the public in August every year. Find out more about visiting Clarence House on the Royal Collection Trust website.

 

4. Kensington Palace, London

Kensington Palace in London
Kensington Palace has been home to the royal family since the 17th century/Credit: Getty

Built in 1605, Kensington Palace has been used as a home to the royal family since the 17th century. It is now the official residence to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. With Jacobean architecture the palace was originally known as Nottingham House and is surrounded by acres of spectacular gardens.

Kensington Palace is open daily, except except 24-26 December, visit: www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace

5. Hampton Court Palace, Surrey

Hampton Court
Hampton Court Palace and ground in Surrey/credit: Getty

Set on the edge of the River Thames, Hampton Court Palace in Surrey was originally a Tudor palace created by Cardinal Wlosey in the early 16th century and was once home to Henry VIII and his six wives over the years. A fascinating site of historic interest, surrounded by beautiful gardens, the palace was opened to the public in 1838 by Queen Victoria.

Open all year round, except 24-26 December, visit: www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace

6. Balmoral Castle, Scotland

Balmoral Castle in Scotland
Balmoral Castle in Scotland/Credit:Getty

The Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased by Prince Albert in 1852 for Queen Victoria, Balmoral Castle features Baronial architecture. Set in the Highlands, the castle is surrounded by gardens, which were first started by Prince Albert and since improved by the royal family.

Balmoral will be open to the Public on a daily basis from Friday 30th March until Tuesday 31st July, visit: www.balmoralcastle.com

7. Highgrove House, Gloucestershire

View of the gardens at Highgrove House
view of the gardens at Highgrove House/Credit: Getty

The family house of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, Highgrove House is near Tetbury in Gloucestershire.

The Royal Gardens at Highgrove are open to the public on select dates between April and October each year, visit: www.highgrovegardens.com

 

8. Tower of the London, London

Tower of london
Tower of London/Credit: Getty

Built in the 1070s, by William the Conqueror to defend and control the city, the Tower of London has inspired awe and fear into people over the centuries, with prisoners captured within its walls. The palace was used as a residence for 500 years by the royal family and is famously used to house the crown jewels. The Tower of London has a long and bloody history with Henry VI murdered there during the Wars of the Roses.

The Tower of London is open daily except between 24-26 December and on 01 January, visit: www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london

 

9. Kew Palace, Richmond-Upon-Thames

Kew Palace London
Crocuses in bloom with Kew Palace in the background/Credit: Getty

Sitting on the banks of the River Thames in London, Kew Palace might be the smallest of the royal palaces, but it is no less spectacular. Surrounded by the vast botanical Kew Gardens, the palace was built in 1631 for the London silk merchant, Samuel Fortreas, the mansion was acquired by the royal family in the 1720s. George II and family used the palace as a retreat from the hectic pace of city life. The palace later became a refuge when George III’s mental illness took hold.

Kew Palace is currently open for the summer season, visit:  https://www.hrp.org.uk/kew-palace/#gs.bOzJHz4

10. Sandringham Estate, Norfolk

A view of The Church of St Mary Magdalene on Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham Estate
A view of The Church of St Mary Magdalene on Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham Estate/Credit: Getty

The Queen’s private estate in Norfolk is made up of farmland, woodland, orchards and a number of small village properties. Rented out to tenant farmers, an increasing amount of crops are grown organically. King Edward VII first opened the gardens to the public in 1908, while the museum was opened by King George V in 1930, while Sandringham House was opened to the public in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year.

The visitor centre is open daily, except Good Friday and Christmas Day, visit: www.sandringhamestate.co.uk

 

Main image: The wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor/Credit: Getty

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