London is a veritable treasure trove of the ostentatious, ornate and extraordinary world of royal palaces. Visit one of the city's many historic royal residences to learn about the people who have lived and continue to live there, explore priceless art and antiques and catch a glimpse inside the world of the British royals.
Perhaps the most famous of them all, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of The Queen. It has also been home to Britain's monarch since Queen Victoria first moved in back in 1837. Every Summer it throws its doors open to members of the public, who can visit its grand State Apartments.
Hampton Court Palace
Along with St Jame's Palace, this royal palace is one of only two surviving palaces owned by King Henry VIII. A mixture of Tudor and Baroque architectural styles, the palace is home to the UK's oldest surviving hedge maze, commissioned around 1700 by King William III, as well as 60 acres of beautiful, manicured gardens.
A royal residence for more than 300 years, today it is the private residence of Prince William, his wife, Catherine Middleton and their three children, among other royals. A large part of the palace, including the 242 acre Kensington Gardens, is open for the public to explore.
A somewhat forgotten royal palace, the Banqueting House is all that remains of the Palace of Whitehall, Europe's largest palace, which was wiped out by fire in the late-17th century. The Banqueting House is perhaps most famous for being the site of Charles I's execution, who was beheaded on a scaffold located just outside.
The Tower of London
Not a lot of people know, but this iconic fortress is actually a royal palace. Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, to give it its full name, started out life as a grand palace built by William the Conqueror following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It quickly came to represent a symbol of power and oppression inflicted upon London by its new masters.
St James's Palace
A little-known fact, but this palace is actually the most senior royal palace in the United Kingdom and is, technically, the official residence of the British sovereign. It was home to English, and later British, kings and queens from its construction in 1536 right up until the late-18th and early-19th centuries, when it was displaced by Buckingham Palace.
The Palace of Westminster
Initially built in the 11th century as a royal residence for Edward the Confessor, much of the original structure was destroyed by fires that took place in1512 and 1834. The palace that stands today was constructed in the mid-late 19th century, and is the meeting place of the two houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom.
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Don't miss the chance to visit some of London's must-see historic royal palaces