So, you weren’t invited to the Royal Wedding. While you won’t get to sit next to the Beckhams or drink tea with the Windsors for the big event, you can still experience the best of London (without worrying about your face appearing in Page Six’s ‘what were they thinking?’ layout of wedding fashion gone wrong).
Ian Steiger, Head Concierge of the historic DUKES LONDON in St. James’s and the Concierge of the Year 2010, is offering tips for London travelers who want to see the best of the city, without all the chaos but with a little royal flair. Here’s what he suggests:
1. Buckingham Palace isn’t the only Royal residence in town. Visit Clarence House, the official residence of Princes Charles, William and Harry, which offers public and private tours from August 6th through September 4th.
2. The best place to catch a glimpse of William departing Clarence House for the Royal Wedding will be the steps of the Duke of York “Son of George III” statue on Carlton House Terrace. Show up early, says Steiger: “Royal watchers will begin queuing two or three days ahead.”
3. While St. James’s Palace isn’t open to the public, it’s a great spot to see the comings and goings of Royal Family members. The palace was the Royals’ official residence from 1699 until 1837.4. Even the Royal Family goes out on the town. Among great dining spots they’ve been known to frequent: Annabel’s, a private club that is a favorite of the Prince of Wales; Wiltons, a famous fish restaurant founded in St. James in 1742; and Le Gavroche, Michel Roux Jr.’s Michelin Two-Star French restaurant in Mayfair.
5. For those without an invite to the Royal Wedding, DUKES LONDON will host a special Royal Wedding Champagne Afternoon Tea on April 29. The wedding will be shown on the big screen in the Regal Marlborough Suite, while Champagne, tea, finger sandwiches and assorted cakes and pastries will be served (price is approximately $55).
6. Glimpse Prince William’s maternal side at Spencer House, the ancestral home of the family of Diana, Princess of Wales.
7. Spring and summer bloom with possibilities in London. Prime among annual events that the Royal Family never misses is the Royal Ascot Races from June 14-18 and the Chelsea Flower Show, May 24-28.
8. Art lovers will be enthralled by the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition of contemporary works, scheduled this year from June 7-August 15. Meanwhile, the lesser-known Courtauld Gallery is among the finest small museums in the world, with a collection stretching from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
9. Visit historic buildings, including Marlborough House, built with red bricks from Holland in 1711; Burlington House, begun in 1660 and remodeled twice since; and St. James’s Church, which was fashioned by Christopher Wren for his friend Henry Jermyn from 1674-86 and restored with a garden of remembrance following bombing damage from the London Blitz.
10. Can’t get enough of the Royals? Tour Buckingham Palace, one of the few working royal palaces in the world, from July 23-October 3; or head for Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world with 900 years of British history to go around. It’s open daily from 9:45am-4:15pm.