Historic Royal Palaces Q&A

Hampton Court Palace entrance

When you think of royal palaces, your mind immediately leaps to Buckingham Palace. ๐Ÿ‘‘ But, did you know London is host to many palaces. Weโ€™ve rounded up some of our favourites!

Two-for-one offer

Weโ€™ve teamed up with these three Historic Royal Palaces to bring you a 2-for-1 entry offer.

Available all week until the end of March 2023.

The offer must be claimed in person at either the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace or the Kensington Palace ticket office and is not available online. Some exclusions apply, check the terms and conditions.

Historic Royal Palaces logo
Hampton Court Palace during winter

Historic Royal Palaces

๐Ÿฐ Tower of London 

๐Ÿš‡ Tower Hill station

For over 900 years, the Tower of London has dominated the City of London and is still one of the capitalโ€™s most prominent landmarks. ๐Ÿฐ Throughout its long history, the Tower has served as a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, an arsenal, royal mint, menagerie and jewel house. Today, itโ€™s home to some of the most potent symbols of British history: the Yeoman Warders otherwise known as โ€˜Beefeatersโ€™ ๐Ÿ’‚โ€โ™€๏ธ, ravens ๐Ÿฆ and Crown Jewels. ๐Ÿ’Ž 

๐Ÿฐ Hampton Court Palace

๐ŸšŒ 111, 216, 411 

Hampton Court Palace was the centre of court and political life for over two hundred years. The opulent Tudor palace caught the attention of Henry VIII, who transformed the building into a vast pleasure palace. It boasted a bowling alley ๐ŸŽณ, tennis court ๐ŸŽพ and more. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

A palace of two halves, King William III and his wife Mary II commissioned the celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren to build a new baroque palace for them, therefore creating a suite of spectacular Kingโ€™s and Queenโ€™s State Apartments set around an elegant Fountain Court.

One of the newest attractions for families is the Tudor-inspired Magic Garden. Along with its world-class art collection, Hampton Court Palace is also home to the largest grapevine in the world ๐Ÿ‡, the Royal Tennis Court ๐ŸŽพ – which dates to the reign of King Charles I – and the UKโ€™s oldest surviving hedge maze. ๐ŸŒณ 

๐Ÿฐ Kensington Palace

๐Ÿš‡ Queensway and High Street Kensington stations

Kensington Palace became a royal residence during the reign of King William III and Queen Mary II, having been purchased as a rural and relatively modest retreat some distance from the city. ๐Ÿก 

More recently, the palace became home to Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret. It is currently the London home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.

Despite its humble beginnings, Kensington was a favoured royal home of the late Stuart monarchs, and at the centre of court life under the first Hanoverian kings. However, following King George IIIโ€™s accession to the throne in 1760, Kensington ceased to serve as the home of the reigning monarch. ๐Ÿคด

One of the palaceโ€™s best-known residents is Queen Victoria, who was born at Kensington on 24 May 1819. Eighteen years later, it was here that the Princess woke up on 20 June 1837 to the news of her own accession to the throne. ๐Ÿ‘‘ Her first Privy Council meeting was held in the Red Saloon that same day, before the young Queen moved permanently to Buckingham Palace with her mother. ๐Ÿฐ

Q&As with Historic Royal Palaces staff

Kensington Palace

Operations Manager ๐Ÿ—ฃ

Whatโ€™s your favourite thing to do on a typical working day?

Having the opportunity to answer visitors questions as Iโ€™m walking around the site. I love the weird questions the most โ€“ never be afraid to ask them!

Whoโ€™s been your favourite customer or favourite moment at the palace?

We never stay the same at Kensington and are always opening new exhibitions and interpreting the site in new ways. One of my favourite moments was the first time I saw the recreated rooms in our Victoria: A Royal Childhood exhibition. Suddenly the rooms that had been mainly plain exhibition space for years had come alive again. You really felt like you had stepped back into the past.

My favourite customer has to be a lady who visited us just after we had re-opened in August 2020 after the first national lockdown. She was a history enthusiast and we had a long conversation about the history of the Palace and our shared historical interests. We were talking for at least half an hour when she suddenly burst into tears. I asked what had happened and she replied that she lives alone and she had just realised that this was the longest conversation sheโ€™d had with anyone in the last 6 months. That was a very special moment.

Can you share a fun fact about the palace you work at?

George II died whilst on the toilet at Kensington Palace in 1760, beating Elvis Presley as the first King to die on the throne by 200 years!

Tower of London

Chief Exhibitor ๐Ÿ—ฃ

Whatโ€™s your favourite thing to do on a typical working day?

I love speaking to visitors. The bulk of my job involves speaking with people. I am not very good at writing, but I like speaking with people. Daily, I have to explain to people who are queueing up to enter the Beauchamp Tower, that โ€œI am so sorry, I am not cutting the queue- I live upstairsโ€ to get to my residence on my lunch break. Sometimes people think I am joking and follow me upstairs to make sure I am telling the truth!

Whoโ€™s been your favourite customer or favourite moment at the palace?

I am fortunate enough to meet some interesting people like the members of the Royal Family, Heads of State and celebrities from Tom Cruise to Jeff Bezos. But my most favourite guests are the young school children who I meet regularly from local schools. They ask me the best questions and I get to work with them to create pieces of work in relation to the historic context of the Tower. I learn something from these young people every time.

Can you share a fun fact about the palace you work at?

During lockdown, the ravens stole one of my sandwiches! They were used to having more visitors to feed them, but when things went quiet, they went around trying to find food wherever they could!

Hampton Court

Customer Insight Manager ๐Ÿ—ฃ

Whatโ€™s your favourite thing to do on a typical working day?

My favourite thing to do is to take a walk around the palace and see our visitors enjoying themselves. Soaking up the atmosphere, seeing enthralled school groups following a costumed actor into the kitchens, tourists gazing in wonder at the ceiling in the Great Hall, members enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake in our cafรฉ, a tour group examining the flowers in the rose garden, people with dementia and their carers enjoying a Sensory Palaces session in the Great Vine or a child enjoying an ice cream in the Wilderness.

Whoโ€™s been your favourite customer or favourite moment at the palace?

My favourite moment has to be hearing our younger visitors singing along to Horrible Histories live at Hampton Court Palace. Seeing Henry VIII on stage in this setting is a real โ€˜history where it happenedโ€™ moment. Witnessing the next generation engage with history in this way brings the whole palace to life.

Can you share a fun fact about the palace you work at?

The palace has a dedicated kitchen for chocolate! Built by Christopher Wren in about 1690, it provided chocolate drinks for William III and Mary II. The King and Queen would usually take their chocolate as a drink at breakfast time. You can see it today, including all the equipment and examples of ingredients and flavourings used, including red chillies.

Use our travel tools to plan your journey

๐Ÿ”— Visit our travel tools webpage to find a range of tools

๐Ÿ“ฑ Download our free app TfL Go available on iPhone and Android

Get involved

Tell us about your favourite historical venues in London on social media in the comments. ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป 

Share your thoughts