Historic Britain: Walk in the Footsteps of Royalty

Visit Britain

Walking in the footsteps of the British Royal family, past and present, is not hard if you live in Britain—or even if you are just visiting. You just have to know where to go and then learn about the lives that characterized each individual's mark on British history.

Tower of London

Of all the historic stately homes, castles, and palaces I have ever visited in the UK, the Tower of London stands out the most for me and has lived up to my high expectations. As an avid Anne Boleyn fan since the age of 11, I was overjoyed when I had the chance to visit the Tower of London in 2000 and keen to walk in this tragic queen's footsteps and learn more about her final days as she lay languishing in the tower, awaiting execution.

The Tower of London is much more than it seems when you first enter it. It is not a single building or fortress but a collection of walkways, gardens, lavish royal apartments, and rooms housing the priceless Crown Jewels. If you want a guided tour of the Tower of London, a Yeoman Warder will happily share stories of the Tower's history, from the tormented men and women who died here to the more fortunate individuals who awaited their triumphant coronation.

The easiest way to reach the Tower of London is via tube (Underground). Simply hop on the District or Circle lines until you reach Tower Hill station. From there, follow Tower of London signs until you reach the entrance, which is a few minutes' walk from the station.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace has been a royal home since the late 1520s, when Cardinal Wolsey wisely handed the keys to his palatial home to his covetous master, King Henry VIII, before Henry could seize it from him. Hampton Court, surrounded by gardens and a maze, is a palace of outstanding beauty. It's also chock-full of events that changed and even marred the course of English and then British history, from the birth of Henry VIII's long-awaited son and heir Edward VI to the tragic arrest of Catherine Howard, who was led to her death in 1542.

Hampton Court is easily accessible by rail, road, boat and bus. If you have a long layover at London's Heathrow or Gatwick airports or plenty of time to kill before check-in, you can even catch a bus from either of the airports to the palace. Be sure to allow plenty of time to tour Hampton Court Palace and additional time to return to the airport if you have a plane to catch.

Although I have never met a member of the Royal Family, I can say that I have walked in their footsteps, and also in the footsteps of their ancestors. Visiting the places where they walked gives me a unique insight into their times and teaches me much more about the royals than a history textbook ever could.

Content by Sophie Spyrou