I remember as a child, I used to wait for my mum to finish reading her Woman’s Day magazines so that I could flick through them and look at what the British Royals were up to. Now that I live in London, I feel even more excited to visit some of these places with my parents.
I have been to Windsor Castle before, but this time was different. I was able to show my parents around a real British Castle! They loved it. We spent hours exploring the gardens and scenery.
Mum marvelled at the Castle interior filled with porceline ornaments, lavish draperies, chandeliers and gold gilded furniture.
While in the mean time, Dad would furrow his brow and wonder out loud why the royal chairs were so small.
“Were people much smaller back then? How does the Queen fit into this tiny child sized chair” He asked me.
Bless him. It was enough for me to stifle a giggle while I explained that this furniture goes back about 200 years when people were actually much smaller then.
Dad of course had to follow the guards around and pretend to be one of them.
Mum was wondering whether the Queen was in town. Unfortunately, the Queen was in Scotland at the time so we couldn’t have tea with her this time. I’ll give her more notice next time. ;)
What’s your favourite British Castle? Let me know in the comments below! I haven’t seen them all but I’d love to.
Want to go to Windsor Castle and pay less?
In September 2013 (the time we visited), I saved time and money by buying a GroupSave ticket, which meant that we were able to receive 4 tickets for the price of 2. We also received a discount on each ticket! This also allowed us to skip the line which appeared to be at least an hour long! It just shows that careful research and planning does pay off :D
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Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved reading and hearing about the Royals, so when my friend suggested a girls trip to Windsor last Friday, I was all for it! We hopped onto a train and went on a 45 minute journey from the bustling City of London to the green, countryside of Windsor.
Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied castle in Europe and is still home to the UK Monarchy to this day.
When we arrived, we were excited to see that there was a guided tour available free of charge. So off we went on a walk around the castle with our lovely tour guide and a bunch of tourists. The tour guide gave us a wealth of information about Windsor. For example, here is the seal of the Order of the Garter.
She said that this is the highest form of chivalry in the UK and those who are knighted into the Order of the Garter are bestowed with the highest honor. The likes of Prince Harry and Prince William are members of this prestigious group. She went on to mention that the Order of the Garter was founded in 1938 and told us a folk tale about how this order came about:
King George VI founded the order in 1938 under unusual means. He was enjoying himself during a grand ballroom event with all his knights (much like a bunch of guys at a pub having a drink and joke around). The beautiful Countess Salisbury had been dancing in the grand ballroom and had accidentally dropped the garter that held her stockings up. King George VI saw this, picked it up and then realized that the lady’s honor would be compromised if he had returned it to her. She was a married woman and having another man hold her garter would have been a disgrace. The knights joked around and laughed as they had been pleased to see such a funny event. So in order to save the Countess from embarrassment, King George VI put the garter on his leg, turned around and said “You have all been crowned as the Knights of the Royal Garter!” According to legend, this is why you will see paintings of Royal men in those days wearing garters to hold up their puffy trousers!
Visiting the Queen’s residence
During our visit, we were directed to many beautiful areas of the castle. This tower is where the current Queen of England resides for the majority of the year. When the flag is up, it is an indication that the Queen is in the castle. Can you see the flag?
So we were excited to know that we were in the presence of the Queen, in some way! (note to self: tell mum and my grandmother) The tour guide continued to talk as we wandered around the castle. Then, suddenly, I felt the urge to look at a passing car and watched a lady slowly walk out of the car through the private gates that were only accessible to the residence of the castle. From the back, the lady walked, dressed and sported a hair cut very similar to the Queens! I think we spotted the Queen!
We barely contained our excitement as we wandered around and enjoyed the views of Windsor Castle.
The Queen’s Jubilee Photos
Photos in the Castle are not allowed but it is well worth visiting. The rooms are luxurious and filled with beautiful art works, furniture and paintings.
One of my favorite parts about the castle was the exhibition that celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; 60 years of her reign. The exhibition is only at the castle for a limited time so if you want to go, you should go soon. There are 60 photos which represent the last 60 years of the Queen’s reign. There is a photo of her during her coronation, formal events as she met the Kennedy’s and private events such as family holidays. We read every single description under those photos and enjoyed discussing the Royal family tree with each other. We also had a quick chat with one of the friendly Castle employees who discussed his love for travel and confirmed parts of the Royal family tree.
The Queen Mary’s Doll House
The main attraction in Windsor Castle is the Queen Mary’s Doll House and the only reason why I wanted to visit Windsor. The doll house was given to the Queen Mary in 1924 as a gift from Princess Marie Louise. It was not built to be used as a child’s toy, but to showcase the modern pieces of that time. I could not take photos of it as photos are not allowed, but here is one that I found online. You can see that the castle takes up an entire room and almost reaches the ceiling.
Rolls Royce actually created the miniature cars that sit in the drive way of the doll house and they are built with such precision that if you put petrol in them and turned the key, they would run like any other human sized car.
The Royal bedroom looks exactly like the bed rooms in most European castles and when we saw the paintings on the walls, they were so clear and precise that if you took a photo of them, it would look like you were taking a picture of a life-sized painting.
The doll house also had a pipe system which provides running water to the taps in the bathrooms and kitchen, but this was turned off years ago when a pipe burst. If the water was still running today, you could turn on the taps and run a bath! Everything is an exact working model of a life sized object. The wine cellars had real bottles of wine and the room that housed the crown of jewels had a replica of the crown of jewels, complete with diamonds!
If you are unable to make it to Windsor to see this beautiful doll house, you can virtually explore the doll house through this website.
Eating in Eton
We were famished after spending at least four and half hours wandering around the castle so we decided to ask some of the castle employees for directions to a good pub. I can’t remember the name of it, but all I can say is that the servings are massive and the pies were extremely tasty! We each ordered one pie with vegetables and potato mash on the side. Believe it or not, but I ate it all up and I’d do it again!
After eating at the pub, we decided to walk to Eton to visit the college that the Princes used to attended. The tour guide had hinted that it was well worth visiting. The college was closed, but that did not discourage us from wandering the streets of Eton and enjoying the views.
We then did the Long Walk in Windsor… well part of it anyway! The park was lined with trees, the grass was extremely green and people were walking their dogs and enjoying the atmosphere.
Then after a day of high excitement, we decided to slowly walk back to Windsor station with wonderful memories of the day that we spotted the Queen!
Have you been to any of the Royal Palaces? Which one is your favorite and why?