So, the news is out! Prince William has popped the question and Kate Middleton will soon be a queen! But where did it all begin and where can you go to experience a flavour of the royal romance? Follow the fairy-tale at these top Kate and William locations to find out…
Notting Hill, London, England
Remember little William in his red school tie, being dropped by his Mum at Wetherby School on Pembridge Square in Notting Hill? Stroll the pretty tree-lined streets with their white stucco houses, familiar from the 1999 film Notting Hill, and on Saturdays make your way west to Portobello Road Market for antiques, vintage clothes and posh food. At No 191 the Electric Cinema is famous for its courting seats, the two-seater sofas.
Eton College, near Windsor, England
William was at Eton College, a ten-minute stroll over the Thames from his grandmother’s place, Windsor Castle. The College, founded in 1440 by King Henry VI to provide free education for 70 poor scholars, conducts guided tours during the holidays, bookable through the Eton College Gift Shop on the High Street where you can also buy an Eton boater hat. Kate went to school further west, in the beautiful Wiltshire Downs, at another prestigious school, Marlborough College.
Clarence House, London, England
The engagement announcement was made from Clarence House, office of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, where Kate and William gave their first joint interview. It opens for tours in summer, but you can catch a glimpse of it by strolling up the Mall from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch, passing on the way St James’s Palace, where the young princes have their office.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, England
Windsor Castle, home to the Queen several days per week (you can see when she is in residence at either Windsor or Buckingham Palace when the Royal Standard – rather than the Union flag – is flying from the flagpole), is where William had his 21st birthday party. It is open to the public and is home to the daily Changing of the Guard, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House (the biggest in the world) and the St George’s Chapel, built in the English perpendicular style and famous for its stunning fan vaulting.
Chiswick, London, England
Kate dabbled briefly in the world of women’s rowing, when she joined a crew called The Sisterhood who practised on the Thames between Chiswick and Hammersmith. Chiswick is one of London’s prettiest – and most expensive – riverside suburbs, home to Lord Burlington’s stunning neo-Palladian villa Chiswick House and Syon Park , London home of the Duke & Duchess of Northumberland. Hammersmith, meanwhile, is famous for its gorgeous riverside pubs: such as labyrinthine, 18th-century hostelry The Old Ship. Join drinkers sitting on the river wall in summer.
Jigsaw and Garrard and Co, London, England
Kate worked for a while as a buyer at the popular British boutique chain, Jigsaw in Kew. The branch to visit, though, is at 126-7 New Bond Street, designed by the super-minimal architect John Pawson and still a haven of tranquillity. Then take a stroll down London’s classiest shopping street, making a diversion onto Albemarle Street to see Garrard & Co, which claims to be the oldest jewellers in the world and was the source of Princess Diana’s famous sapphire and diamond engagement now – after being secretly carried around in William’s rucksack in Kenya – being proudly worn on Kate’s ring finger.
London nightclubs, England
Kate and William’s partying days moved effortlessly from discreet private members nightclub Boujis, handily placed just opposite South Kensington tube station, to Mayfair and the tropical ambience of Mahiki where Kate would have sat in a Princess chair sipping Lovers’ Cup or Honolulu Honey cocktails in the Aloha Room. Later, the young royal set moved to the bar du jour off Park Lane, Whisky Mist at 35 Hertford Street, W1.
St Andrews, Scotland
The University of St Andrews, founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, after Oxford & Cambridge. It sits right on the shoulder of the Royal Kingdom of Fife, on the eastern side of Scotland. A William & Kate Tour would have to include a peek from outside at their joint hall of residence, St Salvator’s, with its views over the Bay of St Andrews and famous foam-and-flour fight for new undergraduates. Also their shared student house on Hope Street and romantic strolls along the edge of the North Sea on West Sands. While you’re there, make a pilgrimage to the Old Course at St Andrews Links, Home of Golf.
Royal Warrant spotting, London, England
St James’s Palace and its environs make some of the most charming walking in London. Go Royal Warrant-spotting on some of the marvellous old shops, from Berry Bros & Rudd, the wine merchants, to Lobbs the shoemakers and Locks the hatters: shops that display one or more royal crests have been supplying the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or Prince Charles for at least five years.
The young Windsors have announced their intention to begin their married life near his RAF base in Wales, and will live on the island of Anglesey. The island not only has some of the most stunning beaches in Britain – such as Trearddur Bay, white gold sand, rock pools and hardly anyone there – but is also home to the station with the longest name in the world at Llanfair, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, to give it its full name. Phew!
For more on the Royal Wedding, check out the VisitBritain website