If you’ve ever dreamed of being a part of the royal family, marrying a prince and living out your years in a castle, you’ll love nothing more than whiling away a day in historic Windsor, home of the Queen and wedding venue of Harry and Meghan. Even if the royals aren’t quite your cup of tea, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied and feeling rather noble in this Thames-side town, where landmark buildings rub shoulders with expansive parkland.
Start your day in ostentatious Eton, whose college has produced almost innumerable famous alumni, including the princes themselves, alongside actors like Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston and a whopping 20 of Britain’s 54 Prime Ministers. It isn’t all flash though: Henry VI started the school for poor boys in 1440 and it has since developed into the formidable force it is today, a sprawling complex of charming buildings, including the chapel, which was built in 1480. Be sure to keep your eye out for students running between classes in their black tailcoats and top hats.
Next, take a wander along Eton High Street, where yet more historic buildings charm with their original beam-work and skew-whiff walls. There are some lovely antique shops to browse if anything tickles your fancy. If not, make your way towards the bridge, which will give you your first glimpse of imposing Windsor Castle, the Queen’s swans and the twinkling River Thames (which is far enough from London’s dingy waters that it’s perfectly pleasant to swim in, if that’s your thing).
Now, this is where we separate the royalists from the revolutionaries; at Windsor Castle. Constructed in 1070 and holding the honour of being the largest occupied castle in the world, this more than stately home is one of the Queen’s favourite residences, and where she spends most of her weekends. Be sure to check the flag to see if she’s in – the Royal Standard will be flying if she is. If you want a glimpse into the life of the royals, buy a ticket and head inside to see the state apartments, many a historic artwork – including Queen Mary’s doll’s house – St. George’s chapel, and the changing of the Queen’s royal guards.
You’re sure to have worked up an appetite by now, and what better way to satiate it than a delectable afternoon tea. There are plenty of places to enjoy this regal afternoon meal in Windsor, but one of the best is at the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa, a Grade II-listed building with quite the colourful history. Enjoy delicate finger sandwiches and perfectly-crafted cakes while you sip on tea (pinkie raised, of course) and gaze out at the river. With your stomach full of tasty treats, why not continue the indulgence with a boat trip along the Thames, where the gently flowing waters will float you along as you gaze up at the castle, Windsor Racecourse and the verdant Broccas meadows.
Finish off this royal day with a tranquil wander through Windsor Great Park, enjoyed by the royal family since William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings. Start from the George IV Gateway right next to the castle. The Long Walk, as it’s known, stretches just over two and a half miles from the gateway all the way to the Copper Horse, a statue depicting George III on horseback. With a large population of deer and one of the largest populations of ancient oak trees in Europe, including some which have been standing since William of Normandy rode past them whilst hunting, this truly is the perfect way to round off a rightly royal day.