Book Butler at The Athenaeum: Books for August
Find out more about our Book Butler’s novel selections this August, through our partnership with Pan Macmillan.
8th May 2019
The Athenaeum is located in the heart of London and just a short stroll away from a number of the most famous royal spots in the city. Here’s our ultimate royal London sightseeing itinerary from the doorstep of our 5* hotel
Start your day from The Athenaeum by taking a stroll through the neighbouring Royal Green Park. The park originally became a Royal Park in 1668, when King Charles II decided to enclose this vast tract of green space in a brick wall. He laid out the main walkways of the park and built an icehouse there too, so he could ensure a good supply of cooling drinks throughout the summers! In 1730, Queen Caroline created the Queen’s Walk on the east side of the park. She was an avid gardener and spent many days walking on this stretch of Green Park. In the 1820s, King George IV re-landscaped the park and opened it up to the general public.
At the other side of Green Park is Buckingham Palace, the London home and administrative headquarters of the Queen. A true architectural icon from the outside, this is a place to soak up the feeling of being at the epicentre of Britain’s royal history. It’s also possible to watch the Buckingham Palace Changing the Guard ceremony at 11:00 approximately four days a week. This is where the soldiers guarding the palace rotate so different members of the Queen’s Guard can move into position. It’s a spectacular ceremony accompanied by the music of a military band. From the middle of July until the end of September each year, it’s also possible to embark on a tour of Buckingham Palace, while the Queen enjoys her summer elsewhere. Throughout the year, it’s also possible to visit The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, which features a constantly changing exhibition from the Royal Collection of old master paintings, rare furniture and photos from the past.
Next to Buckingham Palace is another Royal Park – St James’s Park. This is where James I kept exotic animals – including camels, crocodiles and an elephant – when he ascended the throne in 1603. In the 17th and 18th century, cows even grazed in the park and their milk was sold locally! In the 1800s, renowned landscape architect John Nash remodelled the park and created the lake now in the park today.
Located in between St James’s Park and St James’s Palace is The Mall, a royal road connecting Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square. This wide, tree-lined avenue is a ceremonial route where the Queen and visiting heads of state are transported in a state carriage. At these times, a series of Union Jack flags are also seen flying along the route. The colour of the road itself is tinged with red to give the effect of a red carpet leading up towards the palace.
Nearby is St James’s Palace, which was first commissioned to be built by King Henry VIII in the 1530s. Nowadays, it’s the residence of a number of royals including Princess Royal and Princess Beatrice of York, and is where a number of official receptions are held for visiting heads of state. Although it’s not possible for members of the public to visit, it’s worth walking past to soak up a slice of royal life in the city.
After taking in some of the main royal sights in London, spend some time shopping like a royal too. A number of shops and stores across London are official Royal Warrant holders, a stamp of approval which acts as a mark of quality and recognition from members of the royal family. From Fortnum & Mason and Barbour clothing along Piccadilly, to the Queen’s favourite chocolate shop, Charbonnel Et Walker, there is plenty of choice. (Have a look at our Royal Shopping Itinerary too).
For an insight into yet another royal palace in London, make your way over to Kensington Palace at the edge of Hyde Park later in the afternoon. This is where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – lived before they moved to Windsor, and is the current official London residence of other members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Kate and William. It’s possible for members of the public to visit the State Rooms at the palace.
For the evening, get tickets for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall nearby, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871.
Have a royal day out in the heart of London!
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