Friday, 30 August 2013

London, Buckingham Palace August 2013

A Royal Day Out

I think with many travel blogs, a lot of people forget about the beauty of their own country and it's all about jumping on a plane to find somewhere exciting, interesting and new. However, I'm really proud of living where I do, and popped on the train the other week to London, stopping in Buckingham Palace of all places. It was really easy to book online and get the tickets, and the whole thing was seamlessly organised. Although I wasn't able to take photos of some of the main exhibitions - e.g. the Queen's very own coronation gown(!) - in hindsight this is probably best, everyone should try and get there! I went with my mum and the staff there were great in providing her with a wheelchair and everything that we needed.

Every cloud has a silver lining - the wheelchair access to Buckingham Palace is right through the front gates and into the courtyard round the back. If you watched the Royal Wedding (which most of the world should have done!) then you may remember the route that the royal carriage actually took - well, we were given the royal treatment and little me and my mum went through the very same way. Admittedly not in a carriage or a wedding dress, but all the same.

And now I'm going to go all un-patriotic and negative, sorry. I have to say that I was fairly disappointed by the Palace. I'd never really looked at it properly on TV, just as a large building and I was concentrating on part of it, like the balcony and the people. This meant that I never noticed how dull the exterior of the palace is. It was initially built for the Duke of Buckingham, then Queen Victoria decided that she would make it the official residence, or indeed palace, of the monarch. I'm not quite sure why she made that decision. If you look at some of the great palaces of the world, like the Taj Mahal or some of the impressive jewel-encrusted palaces in Asia you begin to wonder why Great Britain doesn't seem to appreciate the monarchy as much as you would hope. On the other hand, I think that the gates and the mall are spectacular - especially with an eager crowd just waiting to see the royal baby news for example!

Then of course we proceeded and went inside to look at the Queen's Gallery and the State Rooms. It felt amazing to be in the same rooms as some of the most important people in British history, even though most of the palace is set aside for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and no doubt filled with thousands of secret passages. My favourite part was seeing the Queen's actual coronation dress - and I don't mean to be rude here - but I never realised how small her Royal Majesty is. Tiny. I'm a fairly small person so I was quite pleased, after all, they say that the best things come in small packages. ;)

 As you can see in the photo above, the Royal Mews Exhibition was absolutely breathtaking. This enormous Gold State Coach is used by the Royal Family and is simply magnificient. It was the highlight of my day, and so worth going to see. The back wheels are basically the same size as me, and a stepladder of some description would be essential to clamber inside. It is beautifully decorated with a whole host of mythical figures and because we had opted for an audio guide, I was able to understand a huge amount about how important this was. A triumphant, ornate and truly royal way to get from A to B!

Just a short walk away from the Palace is Trafalgar Square (for those unfamiliar with London). As you can see, it's a really beautiful square that attracts a lot of people like bees to honey. On the very right hand side of the picture, you can see the plinth. Although originally intended to hold an equestrian statue of William IV, now it is an art showcase - literally on the doorstep of the National Gallery. At the moment there is a huge (almost 500m) blue cock(rel). I've done my homework and it's a feminist statement, presenting a male stereotype but designed by a woman. It's by Katharina Fritsch, a modern German artist and I really like what she's done. (Shoutout to her!)

Overall, a great day to be had in London, and this will only be the first of many London posts I'm sure because I'm slightly in love with going there. My next plan is to go to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, and again have a bit of a general mooch around and see what interesting things there are to see because there's always something going on in London. I've returned from London full of patriotic spirit and with a spring in my step. I had a lovely time and have come to realise how much national treasure there is!

Again, love to my mum who is the best companion any traveller could have.

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