From royal palaces, royal churches, and even royal memorials and cottages, London is flooded with a ton of different royal attractions which draw in tourists from all over the world.
Back in the day, the River Thames in London used to serve as the “sovereign’s royal highway” which connected a string of royal palaces from Greenwich Palace to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and Hampton Court Palaces in between. But with so many royal residences and attractions in different areas of London, you could be walking by a former royal residence without even knowing it!
Although nearly every area of London has some kind of connection to the British royal family, here are some neighbourhoods in London with the most royal addresses and attractions:
If you really want to bump shoulders with the royal family in London, then St. James’s is the place to be. (It is coined as “Royal London” after all).
Not only is there Buckingham Palace (the official royal residence of The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh), there’s also Clarence House (the current residence of Prince Charles and former residence of The Queen Mother), Lancaster House, Marlborough House and Spencer House in the surrounding area as well.
St. James’s Palace is the senior and official palace of the British Monarchy, and contains the residences of Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie of York and many other members of the royal family. And let’s not forget Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, which is the Queen’s official grocer!Royal places to visit in Saint James’s: Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St. James’s Palace, Clarence House
The first royal palace built in Westminster was once the primary residence of the Kings of England, but today no member of the British royal family lives in the neighbourhood. However, the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey are so steeped in royal history, it would be a crime not to visit either of the two most famous royal attractions in London.
The Palace of Westminster dates back to the reign of Edward the Confessor in the 11th century, and many of its sections were constructed under the reign of King Henry III during the 13th century, and King Richard II during the 14th century. Construction of Westminster Abbey first began in 1245 under the reign of King Henry III, and throughout its history the Abbey has been the location for the coronations of numerous English and British monarchs, as well as a whopping 16 royal weddings.Royal places to visit in Westminster: Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church
The borough of Tower Hamlets is essentially a royal enthusiast’s paradise. Not only does the area have a ton of royal history, there’s also a ton of royal memorabilia inside its attractions as well!
The Tower of London is an obvious one, as it has historic connections to some of the most notable names in British royal history. Anne Boleyn was held as a prisoner and later beheaded at the Tower Of London under the orders of King Henry VIII, and it is believed that the Princes in the Tower were murdered in The Bloody Tower as well.
The Tower of London has also housed the Crown Jewels since as far back as the reign of Henry III (1216 to 1272). The Jewel House was built specifically to house the royal memorabilia, some of which includes royal jewels and Queen Elizabeth II’s crown, sceptre and sword.Royal places to visit in Tower Hamlets: Tower of London, The White Tower, The Jewel House, The Bloody Tower
Photo credit: Uli Harder
The boroughs of Chelsea and Kensington also have royal connections ranging from royal addresses, palaces and even royal parks. Kensington Palace (which was once known as Nottingham House), has been the official residence for several members of the British Royal Family including Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, Prince Harry, and most recently, Prince William and Kate Middleton (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge).
In Hyde Park (which is one of the eight Royal Parks in London), you’ll find the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain near Serpentine Lake, as well as the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens (which was erected in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert).Royal places to visit in Chelsea and Kensington: Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens
Photo credit: David Baron
Kew Palace is the perhaps most well-known royal attraction in Richmond, and was apparently one of George III’s favourite locations in London. The palace has been used by members of the royal family since the Duke of Kent (the father of Queen Victoria), and Queen Charlotte and her 15 children lived here as well.
But there’s a number of different royal attractions elsewhere in Richmond. The nearby Cambridge Cottage, for example, (which is still used as a royal family retreat) was favoured by Queen Charlotte, and its Royal Kitchens have been left “untouched” since her death in 1818. Also in Richmond Park there is a privately-owned residence (Thatched House Lodge), which has been the residence of Princess Alexandra since 1963.Royal places to visit in Richmond: Kew Palace, White Lodge, Thatched House Lodge, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage
Photo credit: Julian Mason
The neighbourhood now known as Greenwich experienced a “heyday” under the reign of the Tudors, and was once the principal royal neighbourhood in London before the Palace of Whitehall was built in the 1530s. However, very few of the original royal attractions in Greenwich still remain (with the obvious being Greenwich Palace, which was Henry VIII’s favourite royal palace in London).
The Palace of Placentia (which was owned by Margaret of Anjou and last used by Charles I) once stood here, and is perhaps best known as being the birthplace of King Henry VIII and his daughters Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I. The palace was destroyed under the orders of Charles II in 1660, and the Old Royal Naval College stands in its spot today.
Visitors can still see the St. Alfege Church (where Henry VIII was baptized), as well as The Queen’s House, which was once used as a residence by Anne of Denmark. Recently archaeologists also discovered a 500-year-old chapel underneath a Greenwich parking lot, which is believed to have been used by members of the Tudor family.Royal places to visit in Greenwich: Greenwich Palace, St. Alfege Church, The Queen’s House
Photo credit: traveljunction
Hampton Court Palace, located in the borough of Richmond Upon Thames, is one of two surviving royal palaces in London which were owned by King Henry VIII (with the other being St. James’s Palace). The palace was originally built by Thomas Wolsey in 1514, but it has not been used as a residence for the British Royal Family since the 18th century.
Throughout its history Hampton Court Palace has been the site of several historic royal events in London, such as the birth of Edward VI, and the death of Jane Seymour (one of Henry VIII’s wives). Queen Catherine Howard was confined to her room inside the palace before she was sent to the Tower of London as well.
Today, visitors can still see Anne Boleyn’s Gate, a Tudor gatehouse with an astronomical clock which was built for Henry VIII in 1540, as well as the palace’s public tea room (which was constructed under the orders of Queen Elizabeth I).Royal places to visit in Hampton: Hampton Court Palace, Anne Boleyn’s Gate
Photo credit: James Stringer Follow
It may not look like much now, but the area known as Whitehall in London was once the epicentre of the British royal family.
The Palace of Whitehall once stood here from 1530 to 1698 (before a fire destroyed it) and was built for King Henry VIII. It was once the largest palace in Europe, and stretched from Northumberland Avenue to Downing Street and Derby Gate. Today visitors can still see the former palace’s tennis courts from the time of Henry VIII (which are now used as the Old Treasury and Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall), as well as The Banqueting House, which was the location where King Charles I was executed on a scaffold.Royal places to visit in Whitehall: Old Treasury and Cabinet Office, The Banqueting House