Royal Wedding

April 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, UK | 1 Comment
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So apparently a year ago there was this teeny tiny royal wedding. Not sure if any of you heard about it. Probably not, which is good because it means this only slightly late post will be all kinds of fresh.

While most of my peers chose to either ignore the wedding or watch it at home, myself and @markb0ss decided to head into central London to see what we could see.

By the time I got to Trafalgar Square they’d stopped letting people in and the area around St Martin in the Field was also getting quite full. Off towards the Mall and meeting Mark it was then. En route the lack of people was eery. Zombie apocalypse eery.

After a slight diversion down Haymarket where we watched a crowd watching a bar’s TVs (showing the wedding) from the street we found ourselves along Pall Mall and ultimately on the (very) far side of the gates looking down on the eventual parade route back to Buckingham Palace.
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During the wait I thought despite being back in the crowd I’d be ok when the procession went past as I could see over their heads. Sadly when it did go by everyone got on their toes putting up their cameras/phones blocking out any viable view.
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And of course I did the same. Sheep that I am. I took pictures on the vague hope that I’d see something after the fact. I did not. Maybe a gleam of a helmet.

Although there were even more people behind us!
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After even more of a wait the gates opened and we proceeded onto the Mall and got all the way to Buckingham Palace.
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Unfortunately we were behind the fountain and a broadcasting tower so couldn’t see the balcony.
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Instead relying on the wave of cheers from either side to let us know.
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So, hours of waiting and not seeing anything, was it worth it? Yes.
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It was a great atmosphere (and excellent weather), while there were a few idiots the majority of people were friendly and it was a pleasant time. Even after the wedding the streets of London were quiet and later while resting everyone was chatting about the day. It was almost as though London’s usual gruff attitude had gone into the mirror universe.

Having said that, now that I’ve done one I wouldn’t necessarily rush to another. Not to mention, having good mates to watch it with helps as well!

Photos (camera phone) on Flickr!

The Royal Mews and The Queens Gallery

December 26, 2009 at 11:15 am | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The Royal Mews and The Queens Gallery, which adjoin Buckingham Palace are both run by the royal collection and through much of the year a joint ticket can be purchased (you can also combine the ticket with a tour of the palace state rooms when those are open as well).

When I visited I went to both so thought it only fair to write it up as such.

The Mews and Gallery offer different content and experiences but the unifying theme of royalty runs through them both.

Let’s start with the mews. The mews were originally the royal stables but only retain a portion of that function now. Horses remain on site as do the other, more modern vehicles the royal family uses to get around. Although it’s unlikely they’ll be popping down to Tesco’s for a pint of milk.

Most of the publicly accessible areas are given up to displays of the various horse-drawn coaches. Most notably the ostentatious coronation carriage with its massively intricate and golden design.

So for the transport buff there’s the mews but what of the art lover? Well that’s when you walk down the street and go into the Queen’s Gallery. The gallery has a changing list of exhibitions so it’s best to check their website or you could just wander in.

When I ventured in it was to find an exhibit on French porcelain. Initially I was a bit skeptical but I came away finding the process challenging and the results delicate and beautiful.

Not to be drawn into stereotypes but you could almost say this was a suitable compromise date with something for him and her.

The Royal Mews took about 30 mins at a cost of  £7.75  (including audio guide). The Queens Gallery took me about an hour and costs £8.50 for an adult. A combined ticket is £15.

Changing of the Guard

March 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A few Thursday’s ago I woke up shockingly early (for an unemployed hobo like me) to attend the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. The event begins at 11:30 although with the number of tourists in attendance it’s best to arrive a little earlier.

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I initally set myself up at one side however after the procession entered the courtyard I realised this was a miscalculation as most of the activity was in the centre. As a result I moved to a better spot and while I wasn’t at the front luckily I could look over the heads of most people.

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Apparently the average tourist is quite short – except for those climbing on the fence. I feel quite sorry for the police who were constantly having to get the attention of these people and often through signaling advise them to climb down.

Changing of the Guard (14)

Unfortunately those with children or shorter than the average relied on climbing atop a parent or partner’s shoulders to get a glimpse. Anyone too far back was not going to see much.

The most entertaining part of the event was the music played by the respective guard’s bands, which ranged from traditional to modern soundtracks.

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After about half an hour the changing of the guard was finished, while I admit by the end I was a bit bored it was still a reasonable bit of  pomp and ceremony- assuming you can see it!

Buckingham Palace Tour

September 23, 2007 at 1:20 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 3 Comments
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The seat of the monarchy, a former country estate, Buckingham Palace, is (partially) open to the public during the summer months while the Queen is out of town.


The tour offers the chance to view a normally hidden world. My childhood fantasies of grand and enormous palaces were sent tumbling as it seems to be a relatively small interior (granted we’re only privy to a fraction). Conversely, the design did live up to the imaginative hype.

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At the end of the tour I was more struck by the concealed depth the grass and wooded area behind Buckingham Palace as it is feels substanitlaly greater than the exterior geography. Then again compared to the days when all of Hyde Park was a royal hunting ground all of this must be quite the step down.

With ticket in hand (probably best to prebook) you are shepherded in large groups through the security check and the guide room where you’ll pick up your audio tours. These are your standard audio tour packages that you listen to as you progress through the various rooms and you’ll have the option to hear more on certain topics depending on how much time and interest you have available. Personally, I found the audio tour to be quite informative with the voices pleasant and easy to listen to as you walk around.

In addition to the wealth of design, craftwork and artwork that makes this tour a highlight is a special exhibit on the Queen’s wedding. Now topics like the wedding dress aren’t overly fascinating so I skipped this section quickly and moved on but many others were taking an in-depth approach.

Throughout the tour you will see excellent representations of art and finely decorated doors, walls, cups – pretty much everything. Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures inside the building and are restricted to the gardens for your photographic needs. Given the number of people taking the tour you would think it would result in a crush. Thankfully, this is not the case and there were only a few experiences with gridlock and these were at the beginning and bypassed easily enough.

At the end of the main tour and after dropping off your headsets you enter the palace gardens and on your wander out you will of course be met by the mandatory gift shop and the ever present tourism item (anything + Union Jack/ Royal = £). I took this opportunity to speak with one of the multitude of guides. It turns out most are students working in the palace over their break to earn some cash and a great reference. Explains why they all look so young. In her case she was a history teacher and had enjoyed her time working here and would be coming back next year. PR or praise, I’ll leave that to you but she appeared genuine. The guides receive a few weeks of training beforehand and they learn about ‘everything’. I’m not sure that’s the case but give it a shot and ask questions!

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The gardens themselves are a pleasant walk and before you know it you find yourself out the back gate and into the harsh glare of sun on concrete that is this part of Victoria.

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If you are in London during the summer opening take the opportunity to come and visit. The Buckingham Palace tour gets a definite recommendation from me.

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