I’m one of those Americans who is unabashedly head over heels for the royal family. I watched the boats at the Queen’s Jubilee, was up at an ungodly hour for the Harry & Meghan wedding, and follow all the good royal correspondents and blogs. So, I was absolutely thrilled that not only was Baby Sussex born while I was in London, but just one day before my own birthday!
The two places I knew I had to visit on our trip to London this month were Kensington Palace and the iconic Buckingham Palace. I’m really not much of a tourist traveler, but these places were ones I just had to experience.
kensington palace //
I still can’t believe it when I think about the fact that Kensington Palace was chosen as the residence for William and Mary in the year 1689. The grounds feel so steeped in history and for good reason! Since that year, the palace has become the home for all of the young royals from Queen Victoria and Princess Margaret to Diana, William and Kate, and at one point, Harry and Meghan.
When the palace was first inhabited by William and Mary, the monarchs commissioned the iconic London architect Christopher Wren who collaborated with Mary to redesign the home. Many, many, many years later, William and Harry grew up on the grounds. It was very surreal to think that as we were walking the gardens, George and Charlotte were likely nearby doing something cheeky.
The gardens at the palace were absolutely breathtaking and I have to say, one of my favorite places in the entire world. The masterpiece is the Sunken Garden, constructed in 1908 with terraced ornamental flower beds and the most spectacular arches of greenery. I was so taken by the colors and how intentional the pairings seemed to be. There were three different shades of pink in all different sizes and textures that caught my eye.
Just when I thought the place couldn’t get anymore perfect, I heard the My Neighbor Totoro theme playing softly in the distance and just about cried.
buckingham palace //
After Kensington, we slowly made our way to the grand dame and home of the Queen, Buckingham Palace. As evidenced by the raised flag on the roof, the Queen was at home which was incredibly bizarre to imagine. Was she hiding behind the curtains looking out at all of us? Probably not, but it’s fun to dream 😅.
The palace has been the official home of British sovereigns since the late 1830s as well as the monarch’s administrative headquarters. It’s certainly a lot less cozy and a lot more monolithic than Kensington Palace and I truly can’t imagine what it would be like to live in such a massive, almost heavy feeling place. I know I’ve heard a lot about members of the royal family disliking the vibe of the palace because it feels so stiff and regimented.
However, it’s a definite must see for any trip to London just because of the sheer magnitude and the idea that you really are in the presence of the Queen, an actual living icon. I only wish I could’ve had the chance to see Kate driving herself up to the palace.
And finally, I felt that I got quite the royal treatment myself from our hotel! In addition to champagne upon check in, we came back to the room on my birthday to find cake, chocolates, and fruit from the staff! Honestly, way to inflate my ego and make me feel entitled to a state room at Kensington.