Touring the UK’s Royal Residences

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by Hertz - 05 April 2022

2022 is the year that the nation comes together to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s an incredible 70 years since Her Majesty was crowned our Queen.

Life has changed immensely since her Coronation in 1952. From classic cars like the Morris Minor, to the futuristic EVs of today – and that’s just the vehicles we drive. But what hasn’t changed is our love of the UK’s royal residences.

We take a look at the official residences of the royal family that are open to visitors – why not try and visit them all in this Jubilee year? Rent a car from Hertz to begin your tour today.

Buckingham Palace

London, SW1A 1AA

While Windsor is now the Queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace is perhaps the most well-known emblem of Her Majesty for tourists across the globe. The traditional home of national royal celebrations opens its doors to the public every July until October.

You can take part in Garden Guided Tours on selected dates until May, and Guided Tours of the State Rooms on selected dates until April. Don’t miss a chance to see the Changing of the Guard while you’re enjoying a weekend in London.

From July 22nd, Buckingham Palace will host a special display looking at the Queen’s Accession to the throne back in February 1952. It’ll feature portraits that formed the basis for the Queen’s image used on stamps until 1971, plus priceless wedding gifts and souvenirs.

Buckingham Palace is in the heart of London, so there’s lots of other things to see and do nearby. You could visit the courtyards of St James’s Palace, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, No.10 Downing Street and Westminster Abbey.

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windsor castle

Windsor Castle

Windsor, SL4 1NJ

It was recently announced that the Queen is making Windsor Castle her permanent home. And how appropriate that Britain’s longest-reigning monarch should choose the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle as her home. William the Conqueror founded Windsor Castle in the 11th century.

Highlights include the State Apartments, ceremonial rooms frequented by the Queen and the Royal Family during their time here. You’ll be able to see rooms used by the Queen when she hosts Heads of State from other countries.

The Grand Reception Room is also a stunning site, featuring opulent chandeliers and gilding. Make sure you stop and admire paintings by world-famous artists that adorn the walls.

You can visit Windsor Castle any time – apart from Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It’s worth noting that certain areas are occasionally closed, as it remains a working royal palace. Ascot Racecourse is only a 15-minute drive from the castle as well – a place the Queen attends on a number of major racing occasions throughout the year.

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Palace of Holyroodhouse

Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX

Holyrood Palace, as it’s also known, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. The Queen normally spends a week in residence at this stunning Scottish royal sight at the start of each summer.

Sitting at the east end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the palace is closely associated with legendary figures such as Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary, Queen of Scots. As with Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and occasionally other dates at short notice, as it’s a working royal palace.

Visit the chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots in the oldest section of the palace. Once you’ve recovered from walking up the steep and rather narrow staircase to reach them, you can dive into her fascinating world and learn more about her life and times.

You’ll also enjoy a walk in the beautiful scenery of the Palace Gardens. Four hectares of colourful plants, with spectacular views of the Queen’s Park, await. If this doesn’t give you enough of a taste of the past, The Museum of Edinburgh is only a ten-minute walk away.

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hillsborough castle

Hillsborough Castle

The Square, Hillsborough, BT26 6GT

Northern Ireland’s only royal residence is located around 20 minutes from Belfast by car. It’s also the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Hillsborough Castle is perhaps most famous for 100 acres of glorious gardens, first developed in the 1760s. It’s a joy to lose yourself among the woodland and waterways, and children will love the Imaginary Menagerie interactive play trail.

Step inside the Georgian home and soak up the State Rooms, including the Throne Room and Lady Grey’s Study. Hillsborough Castle is also renowned for its part in the Northern Ireland peace process, and the Red Room has been the setting for many pivotal political meetings since the 1970s.

You can visit both the castle and gardens from Wednesday to Sunday. While in Hillsborough, you could also visit the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, which is less than 15 minutes’ drive from the castle grounds.

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Sandringham House

Sandringham, Norfolk, PE35 6EN

A peaceful country retreat for the Queen, Sandringham House has served as a private household for four generations of monarchs since 1862. Special events for the Platinum Jubilee will include an exhibition devoted to Her Majesty’s love for Sandringham, focusing on her passion for wildlife and the great outdoors.

The 243 hectares of Sandringham Royal Parkland is a delight, featuring bike trails and a children’s play area. All the walking may give you an appetite, so make sure you stop by Sandringham Restaurant for afternoon tea.

Venture inside and you’ll find artworks and trinkets from royal families across Europe that have been gifted to the Queen and other Windsor family members on state visits.

Most of Sandringham is open all year round, but closed on Fridays. Although it’s situated in a quiet Norfolk village, there are other things to do too, including Old Hunstanton Beach (less than nine miles by car) and Snettisham Park (three miles away).

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balmoral castle

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Estates, Ballater, AB35 5TB

The Scottish holiday home of the Queen and other royals, Balmoral has belonged to the Windsors since 1852. This working estate contains 20,000 hectares of grouse moors, farmland and forests.

The grounds, gardens and exhibitions are open in 2022 from April until August, with the Balmoral Expedition highly recommended. Starting in the manicured parkland in front of the castle, you’re taken to the Estate farm and then the Caledonian Park Forest, where, if you’re lucky, you might see a capercaillie – a large woodland grouse.

This year’s exhibition in the Castle Ballroom covers “Life at Balmoral”. You’ll learn all about Her Majesty’s life here, from what the Queen would wear when walking her beloved dogs, to tales of the grandiose dances held in the Ballroom.

Balmoral can be found near the village of Crathie in Aberdeenshire, within the Cairngorms, with beauty and history all around. Eight miles east of the castle in Ballater, you’ll find the Old Royal Station – a charming and nostalgic showcase of the railways of old.

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To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in style, rent a car with Hertz and plan you visit to these royal residences.