Historic Royal Palaces To See, Or Rent

The UK’s Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. In addition to maintaining the physical structures, Historic Royal Palaces works to share them with the world through day tickets that might be great for those visiting the Olympics and seeking unique experiences between events.

“Our aim is to help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built,” says Historic Royal Palaces on its website.

While each of the five royal palaces in their care has survived for hundreds of years, they receive no funding from the Government or the Crown and depend on the support of visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. Four of them are available for hire too.

Tower of London
A breath-taking collection of finery in the newly presented Jewel House at the Tower of London features a unique collection of royal regalia that is still regularly used by The Queen in important national ceremonies. Also meet the Beefeaters and Ravens and enter the White Tower, the oldest museum in the world. Open daily, year round.

Hampton Court Palace

A temporary exhibition, called “The Wild, The Beautiful and The Damned,” is included in admission to the palace until September 30, 2012. The exhibit introduces visitors to the court beauties, lecherous rakes and ambitious courtesans who decorated the decadent world of Charles II and his successors. Open daily year round.

Kensington Palace

This summer, visitors can experience the momentous occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897 or “Diana Glimpses Of A Modern Princess,” a small and elegant display of five dresses worn by the iconic princess. Open daily, year round.

Kew Palace
Kew Palace takes visitors behind the scenes to “George III’s Royal Kitchens” for the first time to reveal George’s eating habits and the management of an intimate royal household. Kew Palace is open this summer until September 30, 2012.

Daily tickets to see any one of the palaces are sold, but membership in the Historic Royal Palaces family enjoys free and unlimited entry to all palaces.

Flickr photo by kingsimmy

Love from London: The biggest tourist traps

I have been to London so many times, I don’t usually do the touristy thing any more. Sometimes, however, it is fun to visit the beaten path places just for the sheer humor involved.

With that premise, I attended a tour of Kensington Palace yesterday. My review? Save the £12 ($24) or spend it on beer instead. Yes, even warm beer. The tour must be one of the worst ways to spend your money, aside from–perhaps–investing in the Canadian dollar right about now. (This is, of course, coming from someone who chose journalism as a career, so clearly, my financial advice is to be taken with a grain of salt.)

I am here to report is that the Kensington palace consists largely of Princess Di stuff. And not even good stuff. Princess Di pictures, Princess Di wedding video, a few of her dresses and…that’s about it. A few of the preserved state rooms are worth seeing but overall this is a big disappointment. I don’t mean this to be disrespectful to the late princess, but I find it appalling that her personal tragedy has turned into such a great source of income for people.

Which brings me to my next point. I hear that nothing beats the London Dungeon tour in the biggest tourist trap ranking. Then again, tonight I am supposed to join the Jack the Ripper tour and I could easily see that one winning this competition. Stay tuned!