Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the River Thames have all lured Americans to Great Britain through the years, but now there’s a renewed interest as England’s Prince Harry is set to wed American actress Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. According to a quick poll of travel agents in Travel Leaders Network – one of America’s largest retail travel agency organizations – some are seeing an increase in clients wanting to travel to Great Britain as a result of the Royal wedding.
The royal wedding is expected to be one of the largest events for Windsor Castle and thousands are planning to flock to the area hoping to get a glimpse of the lovebirds as they travel in procession after their wedding ceremony. Whether you’re traveling to Great Britain this spring or later in the year, here are some things to see and do while you’re there.
Ride in Royal Footsteps. Given Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will take a carriage ride down Castle Hill through Windsor Town to the end of the Long Walk after they leave St. George’s Chapel, tourists can duplicate this romantic journey. Horse-drawn tours are available to the public from Windsor Castle, with private guided tours on the Long Walk.
Art and Architecture in Windsor. Windsor Castle, about 45 minutes from London by train, has been home to 39 monarchs. Queen Elizabeth II spends many private weekends here. Traveling there with a BritRail Pass makes it simple to explore the entire country. The State Apartments of Windsor Castle are available for touring. They are furnished with some of the finest artwork from the royal collection. Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, filled with intricate miniature furnishings, is also on the grounds.
Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official London residence, is open for tours from July 21 to Sept. 30. Visitors can see the lavishly furnished State Rooms that are used for ceremonial occasions and entertaining, including the Throne Room and Ballroom. From February to November, the public can also tour the state mews, where the royal carriages are housed. The Queen’s Picture Gallery, which contains art from the royal collection, is also open most of the year.
Diana’s Fashion Sense. The memory of Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, lives on around Kensington Palace, home to many of today’s British royals. On display here is “Diana: Her Fashion Story,” featuring outfits worn by the late Princess of Wales. Other parts of Kensington Palace open to visitors include the King’s Gallery and State Apartments, where the monarch would receive courtiers and government ministers. The exhibit “Victoria Revealed” explores the life of the British monarch, a reign spanning 63 years.
Warwick Castle, a medieval fortress built in 1068 and located on the River Avon, is about 90 minutes from London by train. Take an intriguing tour of the medieval vaults and climb to the top of the castle’s towers and ramparts. In the summer, there are jousting tournaments on the grounds.
Southwest England. A visit to Southwest England is gorgeous, even from a train window, but it is not complete without a stop at Tintagel Castle’s legendary ruins, says Jaime Buss, a travel specialist with a Travel Leaders location in Woodbury, Minn. The castle was built by Richard I, Earl of Cornwall, in the 13th century. “It was indeed a working castle and village at one time with sweeping views of the coast from just about every angle. You can even see Merlin the Sorcerer’s cave below the castle ruins, which is where Merlin supposedly swept up the baby King Arthur and brought him to safety. On the other side of the bay from the cave there’s a jaw-dropping waterfall.”
Trooping the Colour. The annual parade, which for nearly 300 years has marked the official birthday of the British sovereign, will be June 9th this year. This impressive display of pageantry by Queen Elizabeth’s personal troops, can be viewed free of charge by standing along the Mall or on the edge of St. James’ park. “It’s an amazing opportunity to see the entire royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace,” says Kevin Fullen, a Travel Leaders agent in Tyler, Texas, who attended for the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016.
Feast Like a King. “It goes without saying that fish and chips must be on the agenda, just don’t forget that there are so many other yummy treats in Britain that cannot be missed,” says Buss, who has traveled throughout England. A train ride would allow one to stop for mouth-watering experiences in many different cities, from avant-garde haute cuisine to renowned ethnic and regional dishes. For tea time or an afternoon snack, Buss, says, “A warm scone topped with clotted cream and a generous dollop of strawberry jam is wonderful, but one must try Cornish pasties right out of Cornwall. A pasty, is a baked flaky pastry typically filled with meat and vegetables. It’s like a handheld pot pie, eaten without silverware. They are delicious.”
Travel agent experts at Travel Leaders can recommend many opportunities for a Great Britain vacation.