In case you’ve been living under a rock (a very large rock), you will know that next Wednesday, one week from today, marks the date Queen Elizabeth II will surpass Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest reigning monarch. And unless you’ve been living under an even bigger rock (the biggest one that’s ever existed), you will know that a lot has changed in Britain since Queen Victoria reigned. Something that has remained a constant, however, are the majestic residences the royals call “home.” With the help of VisitBritain, what better time to take drool over some of these iconic residences?
If you have ever been to Britain, chances are you have popped by to say hello at one of the famous royal residences across England and Scotland (okay, not really, you can’t actually go inside and talk to The Queen when you visit). In fact, forty-eight percent of all holiday visitors to Britain visit a castle or stately home during their visit.
The Evolution of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, via VisitBritain Images
It was recently announced that Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s official residence in London, would be undergoing some much needed renovations. Makes sense given that Buckingham Palace was originally the home of the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and Queen Victoria moved in when she took the throne more than a century later. Wouldn’t it be amazing if HGTV could get the rights to this for an episode of House Hunters International? Hello, the monarchy? This needs to happen.
As the first resident of Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria made several renovations that transformed the palace into the icon the world knows today. Perhaps the largest of which being the addition of the balcony that has seen countless appearances by the Royal Family – from weddings to jubilees and everything in between – since the first one took place in 1851. Us royal watchers LOVE a good balcony appearance.
Balmoral Castle – AKA, Heaven in The Highlands
Balmoral Castle – VisitBritain Blog
Balmoral Castle, which Queen Victoria once dubbed, “my dear paradise in the highlands,” and it is so easy to say why. Beautiful castle in one of the most serene areas of the UK? Sign me up please! Which is exactly what The Queen did, as she and her family use it as their summer retreat. Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852 (the best thing a guy ever bought for me was pizza). The grounds, gardens and Castle Ballroom are open for visitors April through the end of July annually. Get up there, it’ll be worth it!
Forever Victoria’s Home
Kensington Palace, via Keep Calm and Harry On
Kensington Palace – where does one begin? I LOVE this place. Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace on May 24, 1819 and it has remained a treasured royal residence since. The State Rooms opened to the public on The Queen’s birthday in 1899 – what a good queen, giving unto others on her special day! Many years and many visitors have passed since then, yet Kensington Palace has remained in the spotlight as a home for the royal family. Among many other royals, Prince William and Prince Harry were raised within the palace walls and still live there to this day, with The Duke of Cambridge and The Duchess of Cambridge calling it their official London residence with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Can’t wait to call it home when I marry Prince Harry.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting Britain in the coming weeks, be sure to stop by Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and to the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace to see a special exhibition put on by The Royal Collection Trust, ‘Long To Reign Over Us’, showcasing official photographs capturing Her Majesty undertaking visits in the UK and across the Commonwealth and informal family moments from 1952 to present day.