When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their wedding would be held at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, they shared Windsor was a place especially close to their hearts. It seems the castle was the secret meeting spot for the couple in the early stages of their romance, a place they could be alone and have privacy.
Windsor Castle is said to be the Queen’s favourite royal residence and a visit reveals why: not only is the castle spectacular, it’s situated in a charming medieval town on the banks of the River Thames and borders Great Windsor Park—4,800 acres of rambling, green parkland. If you are planning a trip to London, it is definitely worth taking a few days to spend in Windsor (it’s 30 minutes from the city)—you too will fall in love with the spot just like the royals.
The Sir Christopher Wren Hotel sits right beside the River Thames and offers a romantic riverside view from the restaurant, which is particularly charming over afternoon tea where you can watch the swans glide by while enjoying your brew with scones, jam and clotted cream. The charming boutique spot offers 133 rooms with both a historic and contemporary vibe, with accommodations spread across a few buildings: Thames House, Windsor House or Riverside House. If you want the most authentic traditional English experience, stay in the 17th century Heritage House, which features the structure’s original wood beams and floorboards. Waking up to a bird’s eye view of Windsor Castle’s Round Tower from your room with the Queen’s royal standard flying high is a sight any royal lover will swoon for.
The town of Windsor is brimming with charming shops and pubs, which can easily be explored by foot wandering through the town centre. Make Windsor Castle the first stop during a day of exploration as the crowds will thinner earlier in the day. The castle itself dates back to 1080 and was founded by William the Conqueror. Queen Elizabeth is the 39th monarch to live at Windsor Castle and it was a place she spent much time as a child (this is the spot she and her sister Princess Margaret were evacuated to during the war). When you visit, there’s a good chance HRH could also be in residence (look for the royal standard flying high and for her Jaguar parked near her private apartments). You can tour through many parts of the epic castle including many of the incredible staterooms, Queen Mary’s dollhouses and of course St. George’s Chapel, site of the royal wedding. The chapel itself is not only impressive in its beauty but in its history: the Queen’s parents and sister are buried here, as is King Henry VII. Take time to soak in all its beauty, it truly is a most interesting and magical spot.
The Long Walk is an impressive stretch of pathway that measures 4.2 kilometers, travelling in a straight line from the George IV Castle Gates to the Copper Horse statue of George III in Windsor Park. The Long Walk is a favourite traverse of the residents of Windsor and it’s not uncommon to see Prince Phillip out and about in a horse and buggy. Windsor Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland that is perfect for a picnic and wildlife spotting. Harry and Meghan’s processional carriage ride after their wedding will take them down the Long Walk, through the park and back into the castle gates. To get the most from your visit to the town and all its royal sites, we recommend hiring a private guide who can spill all the secrets and history of this royal hotspot. Amanda Brynett owns the area’s best guiding service Windsor Tourist Guides Ltd. and is an absolute delight and know-all of everything and everyone in the town!
Windsor is easily accessible by car from the M4 with town centre carparks. Windsor is also home to two railway stations. Windsor and Eton Riverside has two trains per hour direct from London Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Centre has three trains per hour from London Paddington with a change at Slough.