A royal outing: best royal palaces, castles and houses to visit in Britain
From Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle – here's our pick of the best royal palaces, castles and houses to visit in Britain.
Here is our pick of 10 of the best royal palaces, castles and houses to visit in Britain.
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
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 royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle
Buckingham Palace, Westminster
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.
Clarence House, London
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.
Kensington Palace, London
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: hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace
Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
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: hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace
Balmoral Castle, Scotland
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: balmoralcastle.com
Highgrove House, Gloucestershire
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: highgrovegardens.com
Tower of the London, London
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: hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london
Kew Palace, Richmond-Upon-Thames
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: hrp.org.uk/kew-palace
Sandringham Estate, Norfolk
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: sandringhamestate.co.uk