The Royal Wedding has caused the world to fall in love with London all over again. We take a look at the city's links with royalty.
“Feared by their breed and famous by their birth,” as Shakespeare famously described them, Britain’s royalty belong to the most elite club in the world. With their palaces, presence and traditions dominating London’s landscape, they experience nothing but the very best.
Competition for the monarchy’s favour has always been intense. The Royal Warrant’s roots can be traced back to the 12th century. Granted by the ruling monarch, their spouse and the heir apparent, it is a closely protected accolade rewarding the best of British commerce. The Royal Warrant is synonymous with success, excellence, pedigree and exclusivity, and only a privileged few, including Daks, Smythson and Gieves and Hawkes, possess all three.
London’s most exclusive destinations come steeped in legend, exquisite backdrops to histories-in-the-making. We tell you where to dine like a king, party like a princess and, in our lowdown to the Royal Season, rub shoulders with the monarchy during the warmer months. Gourmands, meanwhile, can savour the noblest fine foods and champagnes.
Fit For a Queen
"I have to be seen to be believed," the Queen once legendarily declared. Britain’s ruler has a wealth of expert couturiers to fashion her garments and robes, but for off-the-peg designs she chooses classic British brands such as Daks, Pringle and, famously, Rigby and Peller. Burberry is a family favourite that dresses the generations, from Queen Elizabeth through to Prince William of Wales.
The Crown Jewels
The owners of the most important jewellery collection in England choose Bond Street maisons Cartier, Bentley and Skinner, Garrard, William and Son and Asprey – who were Crown Jewellers for several years – to bestow their royal warrants upon.
Princely Fashions Prince William, like his bride opts for smaller, more boutique labels. The princess who will, one day, be queen, famously wore an Issa dress for her engagement announcement, and when her family were spotted visiting Bruce Oldfield, speculation grew that she would commission her wedding dress from Princess Diana’s favourite designer.
A Royal Occasion
Begin your princely sojourn at The Palm Court. Opened by King Edward VII during his tenure as the longest-serving heir apparent, it was the first destination to serve afternoon tea. Queen Elizabeth first appeared in public with Prince Phillip at The Savoy, and held her Coronation Ball at this Art Deco temple on the Thames: supper at Savoy Grill is always a princely affair. Continue the evening with a digestif at Claridge’s where, Post-War, the Queen enjoyed receptions from heads of state; the Royal Family have long since hosted intimate family occasions here.
For late night escapades, we turn to the Princes – with an always-pristine Princess Catherine in tow. Lately seen fraternising at more lowkey establishments such as the Punch Bowl in Mayfair and Ebury in Chelsea (two of the capital’s more exclusive pubs), they and prince Harry set London ablaze over the past decade with riotous visits to nightspots such as Mahiki, Bouji’s and Raffles – all superior destinations in which to raise a toast.
Only the finest foods for a royal banquet – and there are a team of specialist purveyors in the monarchy’s little black book, from Paxton and Whitfield cheesemongers to Charbonnel and Walker chocolatiers. Fortnum and Mason has held the Royal Warrant for over 150 years.
Manna of Monarchs
There is no more kingly beverage than Champagne, it is the preferred aperitif for royal guests, and among those toasting the monarchical households is Dom Pérignon. Perfected over some 47 years between the late 17th and early 18th centuries by Benedictine Monk and cellarer Pierre Pérignon, who dedicated his life’s work to creating ‘the best wine in the world,’ developing, amongst other techniques, the extraction of white wine from red grapes, the blends and notes of different fruits, in addition to cellar maturation and the introduction of wired corks. Today Dom Pérignon stands as the king of champagnes, with an utterly discerning approach to the harvesting of the grapes that create this inimitable elixir with its unique personality. Dom Pérignon is the very essence of luxury.
King and Country
Your calendar to The Season’s events where royal attendance comes guaranteed
April is, of course, host to the wedding of the millennium and you’ll find the capital bursting with celebration over the four-day bank holiday weekend (29th-2nd May)
May sees the Social Season getting into full swing, with the Queen’s Cup (17th -12th June), the highest handicap league match in the UK, held at Guard’s Polo Club and the always delightful Chelsea Flower Show (24th-28th)
June plays host to a wealth of polo events – from the Prince of Wales Trophy to Polo in the Park. Royal Ascot (14th-18th) celebrates its three hundredth birthday, and Henley Royal Regatta takes place at the end of the month (29th-3rd July).
Early July sees the Hampton Court Flower Show (4-10th) followed later in the month by the always anticipated Cartier Polo Match (24th) Just a couple of days later there’s classic racing at Glorious Goodwood (26-30th) August is royal-magent event Cowes Week (6-13 August) a sailing competition on the Isle of Wight.