If you’ve ever wondered how real royalty live, then wonder no more. British Airways recently revealed their pick of royal palaces to visit in Europe. Start with Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the longest reigning monarch who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, and Windsor Castle, the Queen’s royal home in the English countryside. You can also tour other royal palaces on in Spain, Monaco or France on the European continent, to savour their glorious history and grand architecture, and discover how royalty have lived through the ages.
Top 5 palaces and castles in Britain and Europe
1. Buckingham Palace, London
When the sovereign is in residence at Buckingham Palace, location of the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony in London, the Union Jack flag is replaced by The Royal Standard. From Jul 23 to Oct 2, visitors can enjoy a special exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, which showcases the significant events in the Queen’s life and the nation’s history through an unprecedented collection of her majesty’s clothing and accessories.
2. Windsor Castle, Windsor
Just 40 minutes outside of London, the Queen’s country residence in Windsor represents over 900 years of royal history and is the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle. Her majesty sometimes spends her private weekends here. You might even time your visit when she is in residence. Private group tours of the State Apartments can be pre-booked for a behind-the-scenes look at this historic stone fortress. If you miss the Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe exhibition at the Buckingham Palace, you can still catch it at the Windsor Castle from Sept 17 to Jan 8.
3. Palacio Real, Madrid
Constructed in the mid-1700s on the site of a castle built in the 9th century, the Palacio Real is the largest royal palace in Europe in terms of floor area and contains almost 3,500 rooms. Today, the Spanish Royal Family live in a smaller palace on the city outskirts and the Palacio Real is mainly used for state functions.
4. Prince’s Palace of Monaco, Monaco
The official residence of the Prince of Monaco was built on a rocky outcrop in 1191 as a Genoese fortress and has been the continuous home of the Grimaldi family for over seven centuries. The fortified palace enjoys views over both the Port of Fontvieille and the Mediterranean Sea and looks spectacular all lit up at night.
5. Palace of Versailles, Versailles
The Chateau de Versailles, located in a suburb 20km southwest of Paris, was the centre of political power in France from 1682 until the monarchy was deposed by the French Revolution in 1789. The palace’s most famous gallery, the Hall of Mirrors, was the setting for many of the ceremonies of the French Court during the Ancien Regime. It contains 17 mirror-clad arches that reflect 17 arcaded windows overlooking the Chateau’s elaborate gardens.