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The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace — visit The Queen’s working stables — A wonderful day in London

The Royal Mews is a hidden gem in the heart of London — a working museum and home to her Majesty’s horses, royal cars, carriages, and coaches. Ones that generations of royals have ridden in to processions, one which is even 260 year old. It is the perfect combination of culture, history, art, and tradition. If you are in London for one week, or have lived here your entire life, The Royal Mews are a must visit place. Once you arrive, and walk into teeny entry of The Mews, you are next to one of the most iconic buildings in the world, on a street that needs no name, and you are literally in the backyard of Buckingham Palace.

It is actually a bit staggering when you realise how much happens behind the small entry, and how you can easily understand the inner workings of all the photos, films, royal processions, and more. The Royal Mews is the royal transportation hub, in the most elegant of ways. A working stable, one of the finest in the world. A part of history. Living culture.

And The Mews are better than a museum for most children (as it has real! live! horses!… and cars, and carriages!). Because The Royal Mews is both an indoor and outdoor space. It is ideal for children and adults of all ages, with fresh air, history, and culture.

We first entered, and received little audio guides with screens, which I nearly passed on the children having. I didn’t want gadgets to get in the way of the real focus of our visit. And since I was running around after the littlest of our family, I didn’t use a guide at all. However, I quickly learned (through my children), that the audio and video guides are brilliant. They are interactive, they are short and sweet, and they are well curated with memorable facts so even the youngest child listening (ours was four years old) understands the key points. And my children completely locked into each mini story on each stop along the way. Actually, they learned so many interesting facts that they were educating me as we walked around. There were a lot of ‘Mama, did you know…’ conversations. Simply brilliant.

Additionally, we found that in every room (stable), we spoke to the most helpful guides who didn’t just stand in the corner for security purposes, but to share stories. They pointed out details that we would have otherwise been missed.

There is such beauty behind the design and symbolism on each carriage at the Mews, that you won’t want to miss a thing. So I should also mention that we read some facts here before our outing. Like this quote below about the horses…

“Look out for a horse or two during your visit to the Mews. There are 2 types of horses used to pull the carriages at the Mews: Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays.

Windsor Greys
Windsor Greys draw the carriages in which The Queen, other members of the Royal Family and guests travel. They’re so called because they used to be kept at Windsor in Victorian times, where they drew the private carriages of the Royal Family. Windsor Greys are at least 16.1 hands (1.65m) high at the withers (the point on a horse’s neck where the mane begins to grow) and are chosen for their steady temperament and stamina.

Cleveland Bays
These horses are used to pick up high commissioners and ambassadors presenting their credentials to The Queen, for other day-to-day activities, and as workhorses.”

Luckily we saw the Cleveland Bays before they were moved to Windsor Castle, as they rotate them from year to year. We also spoke first hand to a Coachman, and he spent about fifteen minutes telling us stories about the horses personalities, what wearing livery is like, and how they must rehearse the processions in the early morning. My husband has lived in London for 25 years and never knew most of what he told us.

I highly recommend making the most of your visit by asking questions of the very helpful and knowledgeable staff. But also of anyone you might see pass by. And you will see many people passing by because it is not a staged museum, the second floor of the mews are the actual homes to many of The Queen’s household, so you can really ascertain what life is like at the Royal Palace. A unique view in.

As we left The Royal Mews and headed to a picnic in Saint James’ Park, my eldest child exclaimed, ‘I can’t believe they really let you go that close to the Queen and King’s real gold carriage!’ It seems we had captured their imagination, their excitement fully sparked.

It is a well considered, well designed space. And a wonderful day out. All ages welcome, special mobility access allowed, buggy friendly, loos with baby changing, and more. Don’t forget to print these free children activities which we used after our visit so we could continue the experience at home. We even did some horse painting we were so in taken with the day out. But most of all, book your Royal Mews visit now!

Enjoy

Lara

 

The Royal Mews

Buckingham Palace

London

SW1W 1QH

 

ps

If you are interested, here are a few other very quintessentially British things we suggest in London: afternoon tea (we loved this location which is also very near The Royal Mews), the incredible V&A museum, this paint your own biscuit shop, and this playground near Kensington Palace.


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