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Five of the best royal London palaces

April 2011

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If you didn’t get the nod to the wedding of the year (don’t worry we didn’t either) then hanging around one of the Royal couple’s official London haunts is surely the next best thing. Caroline Gosney picks five of the best
King Henry VIII entertains visitors to Hampton Court Palace with a spectacular Tudor tournament over a bank holiday weekend
Steve Woods/newsteam.co.uk/HRP

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Windsor Castle
Prince William used to go for tea at Windsor Castle with his grandmother, the Queen, every week when he was at Eton. He also had an African-themed 21st here. The Castle has been a family home (and a fortress when needed) for over 900 years and was tipped to be the venue William preferred for his upcoming nuptials before Westminster Abbey pipped it to the post. Visit the stunning State Apartments filled with treasures from the Royal Collection, Queen Mary's Dolls House and St George's Chapel where ten monarchs rest. Sadly, an invite to tea with The Queen isn't included. royal.gov.uk/windsorcastle

St. James' Palace
This is where Prince William and Prince Harry have their official offices. The palace complex itself is not open to the public as it is both a private residence and a working office but you can attend a service in the Chapel Royal (where Queen Victoria married Prince Albert) or stroll around the outskirts and take in the Changing of the Guard outside the Tudor clock tower entrance. royal.gov.uk/stjamespalace

Hampton Court
Hampton Court has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century and is most famous for being Henry VIII's favourite palace. Take a stroll around the magnificent gardens, get lost in the famous maze or visit Henry VIII's kitchens and watch chefs make traditional Tudor food. You won't, admittedly, spot the royal couple here, but you can take a guided tour with costumed characters to really get into the royal spirit. Keep an eye out for another Catherine, Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, whose ghost is said to be heard screaming in the haunted gallery. hrp.org.uk/hamptoncourtpalace

Buckingham Palace
Probably the most recognisable of the royal residences, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London royal residence since 1837. This will be one of the focal points for Kate and William's wedding on April 29th — rumour has it that hundreds of disco balls are to adorn the throne room for the post-wedding bash (much to the chagrin of palace staff). Many of the palace's staterooms are open to visitors between August and September and house some of the finest paintings and furniture from the Royal Collection. royal.gov.uk/buckinghampalace

Kew Palace
Tucked away in leafy South West London is Kew Palace. The Queen chose it as the venue for her 80th birthday celebrations in 2006, making her the first monarch to have dined here for more than 200 years. Prince William and Prince Harry were among the 26 dinner guests who enjoyed chocolate cake for pudding and fireworks after supper at Her Majesty's request. Visit the exquisite dolls' house built by the children of George III, the chair in which Queen Charlotte died and a bust of George III made by Madame Tussaud herself. hrp.org.uk/kewpalace

Posted by Caroline Gosney

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