Many of the interesting sights around London (pics) are scattered across a wide area, mostly along the Thames, from Kensington on the West End to Canary Wharf in the East End. So you do have to be willing to get out and travel a bit. Fortunately, there are good transportation options, bus, underground and boat.
On our first day we took a walking tour that was a good introduction to the Royals. Westminster is home to important Royal residences as well as most British government buildings. Our walk began in Parliament Square from which you can see Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Scotland Yard and Westminster Abbey. Here are a couple of things we found interesting.
While St James’s Palace does not have the glamor of Buckingham Palace, it is the most senior royal palace in the United Kingdom. It was built by King Henry VIII in the early 16th century and is the official residence for many royals and hosts several official functions including receptions for foreign heads of state. At the time it was built, it was the center of a very large estate which included nearby St James’s Park where King Henry and his pals did some hunting.
The Queen’s Life Guard, also known as Horse Guards, are a special group of mounted soldiers that guard the original gateway to the Royal Palaces. This guard was instituted by Queen Victoria with daily inspections ordered to be conducted for the next 100 years. Well, that initial timeframe has expired but the tradition remains with formal alternate day guard changes and an afternoon inspection called “The Four O’Clock Parade”.