Over 1 million visitors are expected to descend on London for the Royal Wedding, most of whom will line the streets along the route the wedding procession will take, hoping to catch a glimpse of William and Kate. But for a true taste of the London the young couple know, a tour of some their favourite hangouts, and places linked to their big day, is a must.
Kensington Palace, in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was the official residence of Princess Diana and therefore William’s childhood home. This royal residence has housed the offices and apartments of various members of the royal family since the 17th Century. Parts of the palace are open to the public and visitors may tour the gardens, staterooms and exhibitions.
Down the road in Thurloe Street is Boujis, one of the exclusive private members clubs that the happy couple and their contemporaries frequent. Their signature cocktail, the rather worryingly named Crack Baby (raspberry liqueur, champagne, vodka) is said to be a favourite of the young royals.
Another favourite spot for the “trustafarian” set to let their hair down in the company of other young and affluent socialites, is the Mahiki nightclub in Mayfair. This tiki-themed bar brings a touch of the tropics to one of the most exclusive districts in London.
The King’s Road, originating at Sloane Square, is the traditional stomping ground of the Sloane Rangers – the young, wealthy, upper classes – and while the term may not be as widely used as it was in Diana’s time, the famous shopping street is a firm favourite of Kate Middleton. Applauded for her fashion sense, the princess-to-be is famed for matching exclusive with affordable chic, and the King’s Road offers just such a mix of shops, including the high street fashion store Jigsaw, where she briefly worked as a buyer in 2007. Also on the King’s Road is the award winning Richard Ward Hair Salon, one of the most sought after stylists of the hip and high profile, including Miss Middleton.
One of her preferred lunch stops, Bluebird, is also on this road. Just up the road is Tom’s Kitchen, a relatively informal restaurant she and William are known to eat at, although it is rumoured William prefers the private dining room here. When looking for an intimate dinner out where they won’t be recognised, William and Kate have been known to visit Dans le Noir, a restaurant where guests eats in total darkness and where the servers are all blind or partially sighted.
Those wanting to follow in the footsteps of the future monarchs will want to stop by Garrard’s on Albermarle Street – the world’s oldest jeweller – where Charles bought Diana the 18 carat sapphire and diamond ring which Kate now wears.
Although the wedding dress is swathed in secrecy, ever since Kate was seen leaving designer Bruce Oldfield’s, rumours have been rife that the British designer, who was one of the late Princess Diana’s favourites, has been chosen to make the dress. For a peek at what the dress could potentially look like, visit the shop on Beauchamp Place.
A tour that follows in the royal footsteps would not be complete without a visit to Westminster Abbey, where William and Kate will be married by the Archbishop of Cantebury in front of 2000 people. The largely Gothic church has a long tradition as a venue for royal weddings, and is also the site of coronations and burials of British monarchs.
Any royal tour should culminate at Buckingham Palace, where the wedding reception will be held and where the happy couple will eventually reside.