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Accessible guide to royal attractions in London

23rd January 2019

 

London is home to many wonderful things to see and do, but England’s capital city is truly blessed to be comprised of so many wonderful royal attractions, a fact that truly sets the city apart thanks to the distinct history and nature of our Royal Family. Her Majesty the Queen is a great source of pride across Great Britain so its no wonder so many Brits (and people from across the globe) flock to see the various sites connected with her and our heritage of kings and queens. From Royal Residences to fascinating museums dedicated to the Monarchy, there’s so much to enjoy in London. But what about those who need a stairlift? Are people with limited mobility able to enjoy these magnificent locations too? Well, that’s why this accessible guide to royal attractions in London has been put together. Read on to discover some of the city’s highlights and learn about their accessible features.

Accessibility at the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace

Image credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019 / Derry More

The crown jewel of royal London attractions is, of course, Buckingham Palace, the London residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This iconic building is unsurprisingly a must-see site during your time in the capital and if you have the chance to go inside you have to take advantage. Of course, not all of the palace is public but for 10 weeks in the summer, the magnificent State Rooms become open to the public. Here visitors get a chance to see some of the important rooms of the palace, including the famous White Drawing Room and Throne Room. There’s something special around every corner, with each room beautifully furnished with historic gems and royal paintings.

Amy Stocker, the Access Manager at the Royal Collection Trust, spoke about highlights she recommends: “The Throne Room is a personal favourite of mine, for its theatrical magnificence, as well as the enormous Ballroom that has been used for so many important events, from State Banquets to Investitures. Visitors should also take their time to enjoy the outstanding paintings from the Royal Collection in the Picture Gallery, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck.”

Image credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

Accessible facilities

Visitors will be happy to hear that the State Rooms are also fully accessible, as Amy from the trust explains: “The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are fully accessible, but step-free access must be pre-booked by contacting our Specialist Sales team on 0303 123 7324 or specialistsales@rct.uk. Visitors who require step-free access enter via a different entrance at the front of the Palace.

“Manual wheelchairs and rollators are available to borrow, and mobility scooters can be used throughout your visit (we advise visitors who are wheelchair users to check the lift dimensions on our website). Seating is available throughout the State Rooms and in the Café overlooking the beautiful Palace gardens.

“Accessible lavatories are available at the start and end of the visit, and we also have an accessible shop. A visit can last up to three hours, and the Palace can be extremely busy during the summer months, so we recommend that visitors with limited mobility visit in September if possible.”

  • Fully accessible
  • Step-free access can be pre-booked
  • Concessionary rates available
  • Free entry for companions
  • Wheelchairs can be borrowed
  • Mobility scooters welcome
  • Lifts
  • Accessible toilets

Accessibility at The Royal Mews

Image credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019 / Pawel Libera

One of the most famous pieces of iconography associated with Her Majesty, and the Royal Family in general, are royal carriages and coaches. Used during important occasions like coronations, there is some incredible history associated with these creations. So, when visiting Buckingham Palace, another attraction to be excited about is the Royal Mews. Home to the nation’s historic carriages and also one of the premier working stables in the world, the Royal Mews is responsible for the road travel arrangements of the Royal Family. There are so many delights to be enjoyed here but perhaps the best of all is the Gold State Coach, commissioned by George III in 1762. Further highlights of the Royal Mews can be previewed here.

Clare Thomson from Suitcases and Sandcastles, a blog dedicated to fun family travel, has great memories of visiting The Royal Mews and spoke about its virtues: "The Royal Mews is one of our favourite places to visit in London. It’s much less crowded than many of the other royal sights like the palaces or the Tower of London and the free guided tours are the best way of finding out lots of fascinating stories about Royals past and present.

"Admission tickets last for 12 months so you can come back as many times as you like. You can save even more money by buying combined tickets to both the Royal Mews and the exhibitions in the Queen’s Gallery, a two-minute walk up the road."

Accessible facilities

The Royal Mews and all its splendour is also an accessible attraction. Most of the site is located outside and, as with the State Rooms, wheelchairs can be borrowed free of charge. Full details are available here. Amy from the Royal Collection Trust says:

“The Royal Mews is fully accessible with level access throughout, although there are some uneven and cobbled areas. Manual wheelchairs are available to borrow, and mobility scooters can be used throughout. A visit to the Royal Mews lasts approximately an hour – do be aware that most of the site is outside, so it can be a bit more challenging to visit on cold and wet days. Visitors can take a free multimedia tour or, from April to October, can join a free guided tour at regular intervals throughout the day. A visit to the Royal Mews can be combined with a visit to the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace – if you do this, we recommend that you visit the Royal Mews first.”

  • Wheelchairs free of charge
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Mobility scooters allowed
  • All areas have level access
  • Floors are cobbled in places so care should be taken
  • Benches available throughout the route
  • Accessible toilets

Accessibility at Kensington Palace

Image credit: © Historic Royal Palaces.

One thing London isn’t short for is Royal Residences and another that must be visited is Kensington Palace, which opened its doors all the way back in 1605. Once the home of Queen Victoria during her childhood, Kensington Palace is today the official residence TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and TRH The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Here visitors have a chance to see the spectacular King’s and Queen’s State Apartments, the rooms where Queen Victoria lived as a child, and an exhibition dedicated to Princess Diana (until 17 February 2019) and her fashion history.

Speaking about what’s coming soon to Kensington Palace for visitors to look forward to, the team at Historic Royal Palaces said: “On 24 May, we will open two new exhibitions to mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth at Kensington Palace. Victoria: A Royal Childhood will examine her upbringing at the palace, whilst Victoria: Woman and Crown in our Piggott Gallery will look at her role as monarch, mother, wife and Grandmother of Europe.”

Heather from the travel blog, Heather on her Travels, looks back fondly at her time visiting Kensington Palace and spoke about some of her favourite parts of the experience: “I loved seeing the Diana dresses, a collection of outfits and evening gowns worn by Princess Diana for her public engagements. It was fascinating to see how her wardrobe reflected the development from a romantic young woman, through formal and glamorous evening gowns to the body conscious and confident dresses she wore after her divorce.

“The sunken gardens beside Kensington Palace are very pretty, with fountains and floral plantings that change throughout the year. This was Princess Diana's favourite places to come and chat to the gardeners and last year the gardens were planted with white flowers in her memory.”

Kensington Palace is truly one of the most important historical locations in our country and continues to be an integral part of royal life today. It shouldn’t be missed during your royal tour.

Accessible facilities

But what about accessibility? Well, the good news is that Kensington is fully accessible with all routes suitable for those with limited mobility. Ramps are located within the building, the palace is wheelchair friendly and many more dedicated facilities can be read about in detail on the Historic Royal Palaces website.

  • Free carer tickets
  • Guide dogs welcome
  • Accessible lift
  • Ramps inside
  • Portable seating
  • Assisted wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available free of charge
  • Accessible routes map

Queen’s House

Image credit: © National Maritime Museum, London

Located in Greenwich, Queen’s House is a former Royal Residence that visitors can look forward to seeing for themselves when in London. Built between 1616 and 1636, it was made for Anne of Denmark, the queen of King James I and is known for being the first consciously classical building to have been constructed in Great Britain. Today it is part of Royal Museums Greenwich, featuring an internationally renowned collection of art and architecture. Speaking to us about some of its highlights, the team at RMG said:

“The Queen’s House was built on the original site of Greenwich Palace, this is where Elizabeth I was born, so having the iconic Armada portrait of Elizabeth I is a must see. It commemorates the most famous conflict of her reign – the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in summer 1588. It has recently been restored and is located in the Queen’s Presence Chamber within the Queen’s House. The sweeping Tulip Stairs are one of the original features of the Queen’s House. Designed by Inigo Jones, this ornately wrought iron structure was the first geometric self-supporting spiral stair in Britain. From the base of the stairs, you can look up and see the elegance of the spiral, leading all the way up to the roof.”

Accessible facilities

Regarding Queen’s House accessibility, the team were asked if they have any advice for visitors with limited mobility: “Yes! The Queen’s House is really accessible for people with limited mobility, we have a lift which will take you to all floors and a level access route which will allow you to visit the Orangery at the back of the House, we also have seating throughout the house.

“The best advice I can give is to speak to one of our visitor and sales assistants as you arrive into the house. They will be able to explain how you can freely move around the house and if needed they can lend you a wheelchair to navigate the house at ease (wheelchairs can be booked in advance). We also have an accessibility guide which can be found on our Royal Museums Greenwich website for more information.”

  • Access lift to all floors
  • Level access route
  • Seating throughout
  • Wheelchairs can be booked
  • Accessible toilets
  • Free admission for carers

Accessibility at Kew Palace

 

Once the residence of King George II’s daughters, and then the family home of George III, Kew Palace, surrounded by the equally famous botanical gardens, should certainly be a part of any royal tour of London. When compared to the extravagance of other royal palaces, Kew Palace is certainly the most intimate. Built in 1631 and in use by the Royal Family between 1729 and 1818, there’s an incredible amount of history to discover here. Visitors can look forward to immaculately re-created Georgian rooms, including the charming bedrooms of Princess Elizabeth, Augusta, and Amelia; the Royal Kitchens, and the ability to wander the house’s upper floor which has been left untouched for centuries.

For a top tip for those looking to visit Kew Palace, Sarah, a travel writer from the website The Wanderblogger, says: “My best tip for visiting Kew Palace is to make sure to interact with the staff dressed in Georgian-period costumes while you're there. They're an excellent resource for information about the palace's past!”

Accessible facilities

Those excited by the prospect of visiting Kew Palace will be happy to know that the site is accessible to those with limited mobility, with concession tickets available, and staff equipped with disability awareness training. Further details can be found at the Historic Royal Palaces website and below.

  • Accessible lift
  • Assisted wheelchair access into the building
  • Guide dogs welcome
  • Wheelchairs can be borrowed
  • Concession tickets for visitors with limited mobility
  • Dedicated parking for disabled visitors

Accessibility at The Household Cavalry Museum

 

Dedicated to the two most senior regiments of the British Army, The Household Cavalry Museum is without question an important and impressive royal attraction. The Household Cavalry today acts as an armoured reconnaissance regiment and carries out ceremonial duties. The museum traces a 350-year history, allowing visitors to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Queen’s guard. Combining the fascinating exhibits, wonderful uniforms, and a chance to see the troopers preparing their horses in the stables, there’s a lot to look forward to. You can even try on real cavalry helmets and have the opportunity to see mounted sentry changes. This uniquely British spectacle really brings to the fore all of the tradition, pageantry, and spectacle of our Monarchy.

Accessible facilities

The Household Cavalry Museum is accessible to all visitors, including those with limited mobility and who require the use of wheelchairs. There are numerous accessible facilities available for those who require, some of which are detailed in the list below.

  • Suitable for limited mobility visitors
  • Automatic doors
  • Full non-assisted wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilet
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Flat routes from parking to entrance
  • Accessible baby changing rooms

Accessible royal attractions in London

There is so much to love about the attractions dedicated to Her Majesty and the Monarchy, replete with splendour, beauty, and fascinating history, a trip to London to see what’s on offer is a must. For those looking to plan a tour of the sites, a full list of the accessible royal attractions in London that have been featured in this guide can be seen below:

  • The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace
  • The Royal Mews
  • Kensington Palace
  • Queen’s House
  • Kew Palace
  • The Household Cavalry Museum

 

Image credits: ~Ealasaid~, Ethan Doyle White

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.