There are seven royal boroughs in England, four of which are situated in or near London. We guide you through the British capital’s royal boroughs, featuring the best things to see and do there. From shopping in Kingston and top parks in Kensington and Chelsea to magnificent views over London from Greenwich and quaint pubs in Windsor, our guide highlights some of the city’s best attractions with royal credentials
Windsor and Maidenhead
Located just 20 minutes south west of central London, the royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is a beautiful, historic destination ideal for a short break or day out of the city. The borough is crowned by magnificent Windsor Castle, which dates back to the reign of William the Conqueror and is the world’s oldest inhabited castle. As the Queen’s favourite weekend home, Windsor Castle still stages Changing the Guard ceremonies, with the High Street transformed into a parade ground. This elegant town is a charming place to come for luxury British and international brands; Windsor has plenty of pedestrian-friendly streets ideal for shopping, with a great mix of high street names and independent retailers. While you are here it is worth taking a short walk over to Eton High Street where you can browse a mile-long strip of shops and eateries, from prestigious tailors and antique stores to leather boutiques and quaint pubs. Nearby attractions include beautiful parks and gardens such as the Savill Garden, while the annual Royal Ascot horse races are highlights in the sporting calendar.
Kensington and Chelsea
In 1901 King Edward VII made Kensington a royal borough in memory of his mother, Queen Victoria, who was born and brought up at Kensington Palace. Neighbouring Chelsea was later incorporated into the borough. Today Kensington and Chelsea is the most visited of the royal boroughs thanks to its parks such as Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and to its many attractions. The area is famous for the Notting Hill Carnival, which attracts millions of people eager to celebrate London’s multicultural talents. Notting Hill is also renowned for Portobello Market, which is lined with stalls selling antiques and vintage fashion; it is a must-visit for discerning visitors. Continue your quest for London’s best shopping in the royal borough’s King’s Road, which has an array of luxury boutiques.
Kingston upon Thames
Kingston received a royal charter in 1200 from King John. Strategically located on the River Thames, it was considered an enormously important market town. Today it continues to be a significant hub, with its ancient market square still hosting thriving markets throughout the year. Its scenic location makes it a top spot for outdoor activities; footpaths run along the river banks and boat trips are offered to nearby Hampton Court Palace. Those wanting to explore the borough’s historic ties should pay a visit to Kingston Museum which also houses a vibrant art gallery. Kingston is a great place for a spot of shopping and offers a fine choice of high street names in Bentall Centre as well as independent shops along Old London Road.
Greenwich is the latest local authority to have become a royal borough. It was designated such in 2012 to mark the diamond jubilee of the Queen. Greenwich has had close affiliations with royalty since the Middle Ages and was the birthplace of many Tudor monarchs. It boasts plenty of attractions for those looking to get out of London’s busy centre and is a great place to explore. Take a boat from Westminster to Greenwich and then discover the area’s royal heritage, including the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum. You should also wander around Greenwich Park, London’s oldest royal park. Be sure to walk up the hill in the park, where you will be rewarded with stunning views over the Thames and of the City of London. Those looking to do some shopping will love exploring Greenwich Market; it is a perfect place to hunt for unique gifts and top souvenirs from London.