One of the first rules of traveling is to know your destination. Of course you probably will not be able to absolutely fit in in the span of two days or even two months. But it’s good to have some conversation starts with the locals and to know what’s a conversation ender. In order to know what to do in Rome to do as the Romans do, you have to have done a little research on local customs and peculiarities. So I’ll be lightly touching on some interesting things I’ve learned about each of my destination cities and surrounding sites. At the same time I’ll be able to update my itinerary to include lot’s of famous and cool spots.
Here’s London! Part 1: Before the trip.
This is the Queen’s official residence in London. St. James’s Palace remains the ceremonial residence of the Monarch (which is why Ambassadors to the UK are accredited to the Court of St. James’s. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to take up residence at the Palace. Although the Queen lives there, the Palace serves a dual role, housing her office as the Head of State.
The Palace is home to 30 species of bird and over 350 kinds of wild flower, some being extremely rare. When a royal death or birth occurs, a notice is posted at the Palace railings. For eco-friendly people like myself, you’ll be happy to know that the Palace uses LED lighting to reduce electricity consumption and has onsite recycling for its garden (99%). One of the most interesting features for person’s from countries without monarchies perhaps, is the Royal Standard. This official flag of the currently reigning monarch is flown atop the Palace when the Monarch is present and the UK Flag (Union Jack) is flown when the Monarch is absent.
So what’s in the palace?
Things like a chapel, post office, swimming pool, cafeteria, doctor’s surgery and cinema to name a few!
Does the Queen own Buckingham Palace?
As an individual, the Palace is not the private property of the Queen. The Queen, as Sovereign has use of the this and a few other royal residences such as Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Who’s been to the Palace?
Prominent visitors include:
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (when it was still Buckingham House, and he was only a seven-year-old
- Johann Strauss the Younger
- Charles Dickens
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
- American Presidents including Woodrow Wilson and JF Kennedy
- Mahatma Gandhi (who wore a loin cloth and sandals to tea with King George V)
- Neil Armstrong
- Nelson Mandela
Who else calls the Palace home?
These royals of private offices at the Palace
- The Duke of Edinburgh
- The Duke of York
- The Earl and Countess of Wessex
- The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra