London and Royalty have gone hand in hand for over a thousand years, so it’s no wonder that there are more palaces, royal buildings, royal streets, and royal parks than you can shake a stick at. We take you past many of these sights on our Classic Sightseeing Tour, City Tour and some of our Themed Tours – do check the route maps of the tours for a specific list of landmarks.
Here’s our top four palaces, all located in Central London.
The original and perhaps the best – dating from William the Conqueror’s reign, this is the best preserved Mott and Bailey castle in England. Originally the London residence of the King before subsequent more modern palaces were built, such as the lost palace of Whitehall. Built between the late 11th and mid-14th centuries, it’s been the scene of countless executions, imprisonments and skirmishes. On a lighter note the Tower of London was used to house the Royal Menagerie, including elephants and polar bears that would swim in the moat. The moat and animals have gone but the famous Beefeater Guards and historic Ravens remain – do visit and do give it at least half a day of your time. For more on the Tower of London please see our dedicated page.
Buckingham Palace is the head office of Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family, as well as the London residence of Her Majesty when she’s in town. If you get a ticket to see Buckingham Palace, which we do recommend, you’ll be able to see nineteen magnificent State Rooms, which provide the setting for ceremonial occasions and official entertaining. Each year there is also a seasonal exhibition which has included 90 years of the Queen’s wardrobe and the wedding dress, shoes and cake of Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. The very posh shop is excellent too! For more on Buckingham Palace please see our dedicated page.
The most senior Royal Palace in the United Kingdom, St James’s Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Built on the order of Henry VIII on the site of an old hospital, it wasn’t used as a primary residence until the 18th Century, and then displaced by Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria. Built between 1531-1536 in the red brick Tudor style.
Built in the 1200s, Lambeth Palace on the south bank of the River Thames is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Palace holds events for the Church of England, and its large and attractive gardens host garden parties for charities and organisations supported by the Archbishop. Guided tours are possible – check its website for details – and visitors can explore the ancient palace and its historic library and gardens. For more details on the palace including its history please see the dedicated Lambeth Palace page.