A Royal Escape
with the wedding of the year fast approaching, there’s never been a more exciting time to visit windsor
Few towns pack a historical punch quite like windsor, with its hilltop castle, heritage buildings, and a blue-blooded pedigree that stretches from william the conqueror to henry Viii, and from charles ii to charles and camilla.
and now it’s the turn of harry and meghan. The eyes of the world will be on windsor’s st george’s chapel when Britain’s most eligible bachelor marries his american fiancée on 19 may.
windsor Castle was founded by william the Conqueror around 1070 and is the oldest royal residence to have remained in continuous use by the British royal family. Indeed, as they walk down the aisle, Harry and meghan will pass the last resting places of 10 kings of England including Henry VIII and his third queen Jane Seymour. The Queen’s parents, George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother, are buried in a side chapel with Princess margaret.
Time your visit right and you can see the windsor castle guards marching up the high street (weather permitting) every day except sunday. close by, the area of quaint streets behind the guildhall still has a medieval feel to it. pop into the historic Queen charlotte pub for lunch or try the local guildhall gin!
The Queen’s walkway, which was inaugurated to mark the Queen becoming Britain’s longest-serving monarch, skirts the castle walls and heads downhill to the Thames. Take a river cruise or cross the bridge towards eton college, where princes harry and william went to school.
shop till you drop
Eton high street is lined with boutiques and restaurants, but windsor offers the ultimate in retail therapy. my favourite indulgence is windsor Royal Shopping, a reincarnation of the Grade II listed terminus that was built in the 1850s to deliver Queen Victoria to the castle. Look out for the Royal waiting Room.
Beneath the station canopy is an atmospheric mix of cafes, restaurants and high-end fashion brands. on a budget? Then head down the steps to King Edward Court for high-street brands in a relaxed pedestrian zone. and there are more high-quality brands in car-free Peascod Street.
Don’t forget windsor Farmers’ market too, which takes place on St Leonard’s Road on the first Saturday of the month.
On the doorstep
you’ll only scratch the surface of what windsor has to offer in a day trip, so i’d recommend a short break to enjoy the area at leisure. Take a walk or a horse-drawn carriage ride through some of the 5,000 acres of windsor great park, once part of a vast norman hunting estate. set up your picnic beside the long walk leading to the castle and you might even spot her majesty driving past. go racing at windsor or nearby ascot. Take the children to legoland windsor, which adds several new attractions this year. or relax among the scents and colours of the tranquil savill garden. you may not have an invitation to the wedding of the year, but there’s still so much to enjoy in royal windsor.
Tourist information from windsor.gov.uk. For information and tickets to windsor Castle, visit royalcollection.org.uk. For self-drive boat holidays passing through windsor, go to leboat.co.uk.
Standing guard at Windsor Castle St George’s Chapel, where Harry and Meghan will marry
The Long Walk of Windsor Great Park leads to the castle Fancy a flutter? Ascot racecourse is just down the road!