Where to spot a British royal
The royal calendar brims with fabulous events, creating opportunities to see royalty around the country.
THE ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW
This extravaganza is in the private grounds of Windsor Castle. No one enjoys a horse show more than Her Majesty, who has attended every year since 1943 and usually walks among the crowds.
RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW
Each year the royal family attends this highlight of the Royal Horticultural Society’s calendar, which takes place in the grounds of London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea. In 2017 the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Duchess of Cambridge were all in attendance.
A chance to witness the full military clout of the Queen’s personal troops, the Household Division’s annual show combines music, regimental drills, cannons and fireworks. Beating Retreat forms a part of the Queen’s official birthday celebrations and the salute is always taken by a member of the royal family. It takes place across two evenings on London’s Horse Guards Parade, and commemorates the 400-year-old military practice of beating drums to call troops back from battle to the safety of camp at nightfall. In terms of sheer spectacle, there are few dates in the British royal calendar to rival this impressive display of military might. Beating Retreat is a ticketed event, so we advise you to book online as soon as possible.
TROOPING THE COLOUR
Yes, there are few royal occasions to match the drama of Beating Retreat but, luckily for those visiting in June, just two days later the Household Division coordinates another extravaganza. Also taking place on Horse Guards Parade, Trooping the Colour is the Queen’s birthday parade. The key elements to this daytime ceremony are the regimental flags, known in the British Army as ‘Colours’, which are paraded from Buckingham Palace to Whitehall and back by more than 1,400 officers and men, 200 horses and 400 musicians. The ceremony culminates with Royal Air Force fighter jets flying down The Mall and directly over Buckingham Palace, witnessed by the majority of the royal family as they step out on to that famous balcony.
There is no need for tickets – Trooping the Colour spectators can simply pick a spot along The Mall or in St James’s Park from 9am on the day. The parade, which includes the Queen travelling by carriage, begins at 10am and finishes at 12.30pm. It is also worth noting that the Colonel’s Review takes place exactly one week before Trooping the Colour. This event is almost identical, but neither the royal family nor the Royal Air Force take part. It’s like a grand dress rehearsal for the Queen’s big day, following the same timings. Tickets are available for seats on Horse Guards Parade.
Among this annual explosion of tremendous hats, keep an eye out for the Queen, who is usually in attendance. The horse-racing festival can be reached in less than an hour by train from Waterloo. In 2017, other members of the royal family attending included Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate and Princesses Anne, Beatrice and Eugenie. Expect a daily Royal Procession, a famously strict dress code and, of course, enough horse-racing action to ensure that Her Majesty is firmly amused. An array of the nation’s best-loved chefs traditionally attend the Royal Meeting too, together running a mind-boggling array of fine dining restaurants across the site. Make sure you book ahead for this quintessentially British event.
In 2016, the Queen passed on her patronage of some organisations to other members of the royal family, including the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon. You’re unlikely to see her at this famous tennis tournament, but the Duchess of Cambridge will attend.
THE ROYAL INTERNATIONAL AIR TATTOO
The royal family loves a tattoo – we’re talking about the very British definition, of course: an entertaining combination of music and military displays.
THE STATE ROOMS AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE
If you’re staying for a long time or returning to London, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that Buckingham Palace is about to open its State Rooms to the public once again. That’s right: you can buy a ticket and step inside Buckingham Palace. We can’t promise that you’ll stumble upon Her Majesty nibbling a crumpet with a corgi on her knee (in fact, the Queen will be enjoying her summer holiday at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle), but these historic rooms are nevertheless magnificent. Highlights include the Ballroom, which is the largest of the State Rooms and used for state banquets, while the Throne Room contains the chairs used for the coronation of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as those used by their predecessors, King George VI and Queen Victoria. Finally, you’ll end the tour in the palace’s sweeping gardens, which will linger long in your memory.
THE BRAEMAR GATHERING
In the heart of Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, you’ll find the Princess Royal and Duke of Fife Memorial Park in Braemar. Boasting a 900-year history, this event sees the Braemar Royal Highland Society gather to celebrate the Queen as its Chieftan.
Visit www.royal.uk/future-engagements, a database of official engagements being undertaken by members of the royal family. It’s updated up to eight weeks in advance and you can even use the filter to find your favourite royals.
William, George and Kate at The Royal International Air Tattoo © Air Tattoo Photos; Harry, Kate and William at Chelsea Flower Show © RHS; Trooping the Colour © MOD 2017 Crown Copyright; Kate at Wimbledon © AELTC/Bob Martin; George and William at The Royal International Air Tattoo © Air Tattoo Photos