Visit the Queen’s favourite houses
In honour of the Queen’s passing, here’s my guide to visiting the places that were special to Her Majesty
The Queen spent her time between her homes - living and working in Buckingham Palace, until the pandemic saw her move to Windsor Castle, formerly her weekend home. She spent Christmas at Sandringham and summers at Balmoral. To commemorate her passing, I thought I’d take a look at her favourite homes - all of which are, in normal times, open to the public. Everything is currently suspended, but mourners can leave flowers at dedicated sites - at Buckingham Palace the floral sites are in Green Park or Hyde Park and at Windsor Castle, floral tributes can be left at Cambridge Gate on the Long Walk. At Sandringham, floral tributes are to be left the Norwich Gates and at Balmoral Castle, at the Main Gate.
The Queen adored her summers in Balmoral, saying it was the only place she could really relax, so in a way it’s fitting her beloved holiday home ended up being her final destination. The Scottish estate is usually open to visitors, but obviously not at present. When it is open, you can tour the estate grounds and visit the Castle Ballroom – the largest room in the house - and enjoy afternoon tea. There are also cottages on the estate you can rent for holidays. It’s on my wish-list for when I make my Scottish Grand Tour. For more information and tickets, visit here.
Windsor Castle was dear to the Queen, as the place she found safety in to ride out World War II and later, the pandemic. It will also be her final resting place. With 900 years of royal history, the oldest occupied castle in the world is also open to the public for tours. You can see the State Rooms, St George’s Chapel, Queen Mary’s Dolls House and lovely, extensive grounds. Windsor itself is a delight, too and perfect for a mini-break. I’ve had many happy visits here. For more information click here.
It’s the hub of the Royal Family and the Queen spent much of her life living and working here. Buckingham Palace is now the home of King Charles III, but its State Rooms are open every summer for visitors and you can tour them, roam the lawns and enjoy tea in the cafe. I really recommend taking a tour of Buckingham Palace, when it is open again, as it was one of the highlights of our summer. For more information and tickets click here.
Sandringham House and Gardens
The Queen’s much-loved country retreat in Norfolk is near where I grew up and another place I have visited frequently. Its huge gardens are open to the public, with a great new children’s play area and the main house is open for tours, too. You can also rent cottages on the estate for holidays. For tickets, visit here.
The British Travel List is the sister newsletter to The Royal List. It is a weekly guide to my favourite places to visit and stay around the country. I am an experienced travel and lifestyle journalist who writes for British and Australian newspapers and magazines and I am passionate about British travel. For more of my work, visit kerryparnell.com