In between our academic adventures, we still made some time for tourist traditions this past weekend.
On Sunday, we woke up bright and early to get a good viewing spot for the Changing of the Guards ceremony, which takes place in front of Buckingham Palace. Even though we left early, there was still already a ton of people around the gates when we arrived. We were still able to see through spaces to see the guards carry out the traditional ceremony. Complete with marching, music, and commands, we watched most of the ceremony through the bars and then watched as they marched down the road towards the Wellington Barracks.
The most questionable part of this experience was the royal marching band rendition of “Yesterday” by The Beatles. It just seemed so out of place after playing the royal pomp and circumstance prior. Nonetheless, it was a fascinating event to witness.
Before going on our tour of Buckingham Palace, we walked down The Mall, leading towards Trafalgar Square to take a peek into the National Gallery. We couldn’t stay for very long, as we had to be in line for our tour, but even stepping into the main hall of the museum was an awesome experience. Every inch of this museum is a work of art.
Our tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace were equally if not more stunning. The interior of the Palace was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, and getting to see all of Queen Elizabeth’s gowns from throughout her life and reign was a truly magical experience. Unfortunately, there is no photography allowed in the Palace, so I have no evidence to share other than the fact I was really there. 🙁
Staying on track with our royal romps, we also visited Hampton Court Palace, in the southwest part of London, which was originally home to King Henry VIII. This palace was so grand and monstrous we didn’t think we would be able to see all of its grandeur. The inside was just as beautiful as the outside, as were the massive gardens surrounding the castle.
It was fascinating to see another royal home and think about it in terms of its historical context. Walking through the halls of each grand palace we visit truly transports us back to that time and gave us the feeling that we were right there in history.
We also walked through the oldest maze in England that was built by the commands of King William to entertain his visitors at Hampton Court!
These palaces helped place our American culture and historical context in the world. The cultural immersion of being in England is invigorating and educational in so many ways. The beauty all around this country is inspiring and humbling, and also makes me appreciate home in a special way.