Today is the Queen’s birthday. The old gal is 90 which is something to celebrate so why not an irrevant post on our Royal places? You know you want me to. After all if there’s one thing the UK is known for it’s the Royal Family.
You may think they are wonderful or you may not want them
you may think the money would be better spent on a bronze of Ant and Dec or that the Royals provide fantastic value for the cash we splash on them
you may think a lot of them are dingbats and inbreds or you may think they cover the spectrum from the great through the good to the down right adequate
whatever side of the divide you are on, you cannot but acknowledge we are indebted to their existence, if not to them in person, for some stunning bits of this Capital City.
Pretty much bang in the centre we have the monumental if not exactly cute Buckingham Palace (frankly it is to fairyland castles what viral herpes is to a good holiday)
Buck House to the locals
which is now open to the public.
Let’s not get carried away and actually think the Queen wants a lot of commoners treading in her corgis do-dahs
Betty Boo needed to pay the costs of repairs. A bit of entrance dosh to view some Russian eggs was the easy win.
Now I am a Royalist – I mean, if we needed to vote in a Head of State right now it would be Stephen Fry or Mary Berry, wouldn’t it?
You think I jest? Ok so we have just commissioned a £200 million research boat to plough its wake in the Antarctic Ocean and the powers that be, in an example of ‘be careful what you wish for’ opened up the voting for a name to Joe Public.
The result? Some splendid explorer or brave soul, some champion of the poor and the dispossessed? Of course not. We have
So let’s keep the Windsors and avoid ever seeing Ant and Dec reprising William and Mary as a royal double act.
The walls around the Palace are huge so all you can really see is the front where the crowds gather for a the daily pageant of the changing of the guard. I dodged the tourists and their selfie sticks – everyone seems to be about face these days – I wonder if the watch the Guard changing with their backs to the action?
Outside of Buckingham Palace, and beyond the Victoria Monument sits Lancaster House, Clarence House and St James Palace in a complex of lovely buildings that puts Buck House into perspective.
This group is home to Prince Charles and was to the Queen Mum.
The Park on the other side of the Mall, St James Park, is lovely, if usually crowded
though this corvid was a mite too tame for me.
Green Park, which is next to St James Palace is less refined than St James
slightly emptier and all the more enjoyable for all that.
The Mall, with its pink tarmac and fancy light-fittings – more John Lewis than Ikea and all the better for that – is an impressive way to approach Buck House.
When you are in the Mall have a look for the memorial to the Queen’s mum and George VI. I found it rather touching.
The other day we popped our heads along Whitehall and saw the Banqueting House. This is all that remains of the enormous palace of James 1. See P is for Parliament for some more details.
And we have also taken in Kensington Palace during K is for Kensington.
This is possibly the most picturesque of the royal residences in inner London. If you want more then I heartily recommend Hampton Court – get lost in the Maze and seek out the ghosts – of Kew, thought frankly the gardens are what is good about Kew.
Another royal to visit is the Royal Academy in Piccadilly
Burlington House – especially if you are here when the Summer Exhibition is on.
Opposite is Fortnum and Mason, an example of royal patronage. It’s basically a supermarket of sorts but is (a) ridiculously expensive and (b) fantastic to browse. If you want a good, highly traditional English Tea with all the trimmings then of the possible outlets I’d recommend this or Browns Hotel over the Ritz the Savoy or any of the others.
Finally you mustn’t miss the Tower of London which hasn’t housed a Royal for many a year even though they keep their bling there.
In 2014, as a stunning piece of installation art a series of ceramic poppies were installed, one for each Commonwealth solider who died in the 1914-18 war.
I lost two great uncles, one of whose name was read out before the Last Post sounded.
I wrote a post about my Uncle Willie Dyson here.
The ceramic poppies were all sold to raise money for Service charities – I have four, one of each of my family, as a little reminder of those sacrifices.
This is part of the 2016 A to Z Blogging challenge. Please click here to find your way to other participants.