Celebrate the Life & Reign of England's Queen Elizabeth II
In 2022, the United Kingdom will come together to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking an incredible 70 years since Her Majesty acceded to the throne.
Life has changed immensely since Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1952 — and there’s no better example than motor vehicles. From classic cars like the Morris Minor, to the futuristic EVs of today like the Tesla Model Y or Polestar 2 – a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the world’s love of British royal castles, palaces, cottages and more.
There’s no better time to tour and experience the official residences of the British royal family than during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year. Rent a car from Hertz, and start planning your trip today.
Buckingham Palace in London, England
While Windsor is now Queen Elizabeth’s official residence, Buckingham Palace is still one of the most popular stops for tourists across the globe. This historic palace, the traditional home of national royal celebrations, opens its doors to the public every July until October and is a must-see stop for any visitor to the UK.
You can take part in Garden Guided Tours on selected dates until May, and Guided Tours of the State Rooms on selected dates until April. Don’t miss your chance to see the Changing of the Guard while you’re enjoying your trip to London.
Starting July 22nd, Buckingham Palace will host a special display looking at the Queen’s Coronation and accession to the throne back in February 1952. It’ll feature portraits that formed the basis for Elizabeth II’s image used on stamps until 1971, plus priceless wedding gifts and souvenirs, and more.
But royal sites are just the beginning. Because Buckingham Palace is in the heart of London, you’ll have access to tons of unique experiences nearby. You could visit the courtyards of St James’s Palace, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, No.10 Downing Street and Westminster Abbey.
Windsor Castle in Windsor, England
In a recent announcement, Queen Elizabeth II chose to make Windsor Castle her permanent home. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsdor is the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle, so it seems only fitting that Britain’s longest-reigning monarch should choose it as her primary residence.
One major highlight of the castle is the State Apartments, ceremonial rooms frequented by the Queen and the Royal Family when they stay on site. During your trip to London and your tour of the castle, you’ll be able to see rooms used by the Queen when she hosts leaders, royalty and other VIPs from around the world.
Make sure to look in the Grand Reception Room during your visit, a stunning site, featuring opulent chandeliers, ornate gilding and paintings by world-famous artists adorning the walls.
Except Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you can visit Windsor Castle any time. However, Windsor is still a working royal palace, so certain areas may be closed-off from time to time. Plus, Ascot Racecourse is only a 15-minute drive from the castle – a place the Queen attends on several major racing occasions throughout the year.
Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland
Holyrood Palace, as it’s also known, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. The Queen normally spends a week in residence at this stunning Scottish royal sight at the start of each summer.
Sitting at the east end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, the palace is closely associated with legendary figures such as Bonnie Prince Charlie and Mary, Queen of Scots. As with Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and occasionally other dates at short notice, as it’s a working royal palace.
Take a temporary trip back in time as you travel up the steep and narrow staircase to reach the chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots in the oldest section of the palace. Take in the unique décor and period design as you step into life of one of history’s most intriguing monarchs.
You’ll also enjoy a walk in the beautiful scenery of the Palace Gardens. Experience almost ten acres of colorful plants, with spectacular views of the Queen’s Park. If this doesn’t give you enough of a taste of the past, The Museum of Edinburgh is only a ten-minute walk away.
Hillsborough Castle Located at The Square in Hillsborough, Ireland
Northern Ireland’s only royal residence, Hillsborough Castle is just a 20-minute drive from Belfast and serves as the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Hillsborough Castle is perhaps most famous for having 100 acres of glorious gardens, which date all the way back to the 1760s. It’s a joy to lose yourself among the woodland and waterways, and children will love the Imaginary Menagerie interactive play trail.
Step inside the Georgian home and soak up the State Rooms, including the Throne Room and Lady Grey’s Study. Hillsborough Castle is also renowned for its part in the Northern Ireland peace process, and the Red Room has been the setting for many pivotal political meetings since the 1970s.
You can visit both the castle and gardens from Wednesday to Sunday. While in Hillsborough, you could also visit the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, which is less than a 15-minute drive from the castle grounds.
Sandringham House in Norfolk, England
A peaceful country retreat for the Queen, Sandringham House has served as a private household for four generations of British monarchs since 1862. Special events for the Platinum Jubilee will include an exhibition devoted to Queen Elizabeth’s love for Sandringham, focusing on her passion for wildlife and the great outdoors.
The 600-acre property of Sandringham Royal Parkland is a delight, featuring bike trails and a children’s play area. After taking in all the sights and working up an appetite, make sure to stop by Sandringham Restaurant for afternoon tea.
Venture inside and you’ll find artworks and trinkets from royal families across Europe that have been gifted to the Queen and other Windsor family members on state visits.
Most of Sandringham is open all year round, but closed on Fridays. Although it’s situated in a quiet Norfolk village, there are other things to do too, including Old Hunstanton Beach (less than nine miles by car) and Snettisham Park (three miles away).
Balmoral Castle Part of Balmoral Estates, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
The Scottish holiday home of the Queen and other royals, Balmoral has belonged to the Windsors since 1852. This working estate contains over 49,000 acres of grouse moors, farmland and forests.
The grounds, gardens and exhibitions are open in 2022 from April until August, with the Balmoral Expedition highly recommended. Starting in the manicured parkland in front of the castle, you’re taken to the Estate farm and then the Caledonian Park Forest, where, if you’re lucky, you might see a capercaillie – a large woodland grouse.
This year’s exhibition in the Castle Ballroom covers “Life at Balmoral”. You’ll learn all about Queen Elizabeth’s life here, from what Her Majesty wears when walking her beloved dogs, to tales of the grandiose dances held in the Ballroom.
Balmoral can be found near the village of Crathie in Aberdeenshire, within the Cairngorms, with beauty and history all around. Eight miles east of the castle in Ballater, you’ll find the Old Royal Station – a charming and nostalgic showcase of the railways of old.