Five royal palaces

Published 18 February 2016

Whether in a Jacobean mansion or an oriental pavilion, one thing's for sure – the royals know how to live in style.

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Kensington Palace, exterior

Kensington Palace

  • Greater London
Free entry

Sir Christopher Wren designed this stately home for William III and Mary II at the end of the 17th century, and private scenes of love, loss, heartbreak and happiness have taken place within its walls. The grandeur of the King's State Apartments, which were used for meetings, presents a fascinating contrast with the more intimate atmosphere of the Queen's State Apartments, where the monarchs actually lived. Both are reached by the splendid King's Staircase, decorated by William Kent with a recreation of George I's court.


Royal Pavilion

  • East Sussex
Free entry

Looking at the elaborate oriental design of the Royal Pavilion, it's hard to believe it started life as a humble farmhouse. Built as a pleasure palace for the Prince Regent – later George IV – it conjures up an exotic fantasy world. Discover some of Britain's finest examples of chinoiserie – decorations inspired by Chinese art – and enjoy lunch on the tearoom's sun-bathed balcony.

Eltham Palace and Gardens, interior

Eltham Palace

  • Greater London
Free entry

Eltham Palace was the childhood home of Henry VIII, but its medieval grandeur fell into disrepair as other locations became more fashionable. In 1936, textile magnates Stephen and Virginia Courtauld picked Eltham as the site for their home, refurbishing the remains of the original palace and adding their own Art Deco building, creating the entrancing blend of old and new.


Falkland Palace & Garden

  • Fife
Free entry

A former home of Scottish kings, Falkland Palace sits at the base of the scenic Lomond Hills. Set at the heart of a medieval town, this stunning Renaissance building boasts beautiful gardens and the world's oldest functioning Real Tennis court.


Osborne House

  • Isle of Wight
Free entry

Built by Queen Victoria as a seaside retreat, Osborne House gives the visitor a unique insight into the monarch's personal taste and intimate family life. The magnificent Italianate mansion has lavish state rooms as you'd expect, but there is also a miniature Swiss Cottage built by Prince Albert for his nine children and Queen Victoria's bathing machine on the property's private beach.

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