They may be known for their stiff upper lip, but boy, show the English a tiara and it seems to turn them to mush.
The ‘Wedding of the Year’ saw about 18 million Britons tuned into the live broadcasts on their televisions, while an estimated 100,000 people packed into the grounds around Windsor Castle to catch a glimpse of the new favourite couple in town. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead reported a 40% boost in visitors in the weeks leading up to the wedding.
While brilliant for tourism (hotels & Airbnb on full occupancy, revenue spikes for local restaurants and businesses, souvenir shops and hawkers living their best dream), the British adoration of its royalty centuries post any real political power puzzles me.
A recent visit to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in London proved this veneration of monarchy goes back centuries – the display shelves are crammed with tin boxes, mugs, and sundry items with royal faces printed on them. They have been great for business through the years, it seems.
The Fever That Keeps on Giving
Windsor has been on every tourist’s must-visit list and the wedding mania is expected to only fuel its popularity further. The mighty Windsor Castle sits right next to the Windsor and Eton Central station accessible from Slough, in turn reachable from central London. You can also take a train to Windsor & Eton Riverside station or hop on one of the many tourist buses shuttling crowds.
Walk around the castle past the souvenir shops selling memorabilia, test out free fudge samples, or pop into a traditional tea room for scones and cake. Shops and hawkers sell Union Jacks, tiaras, and masks of royal faces, so tourists can pretend to be the monarch for the day if they are so inclined. You can even buy a Queen bobble-head for your car’s dashboard!
For £21.20, explore the Castle’s State Apartments, Grand Reception Room and St. George’s Chapel (the site of the wedding) among other highlights. When you’ve seen enough grandeur, walk by the Thames where you can feed the ‘royal’ swans, take a short cruise up the river on a boat with a bar, learn about the history of the monarchy, and marvel at the posh river-side apartments.
The 4.2 km ‘Windsor Long Walk’ which housed the 100,000 visitors to the wedding, is flanked by manicured lawns, woods, and free-range deer. On a lucky day, you can spot hundreds of them grazing on the grounds. Start at the Castle gate for a view of the Copper Horse Statue of King George III and walk to the very end for a stunning view of the Castle.
If you are gripped by the celebrity-vibe of the town, head on over next door to Eton to take in the Hogwarts-style surroundings of the elite all-boys Eton College grounds. Notable alumni include David Cameron and several other British Prime Ministers, Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Princes William and Harry.
For the young-at-heart, Legoland Windsor is the place to hit for exciting rides, shows and attractions. And if you happen to share the youngest Prince’s name, you’re in for a treat, Louis! Enjoy free access to Legoland until 19 July 2018, thanks to the royal family.