And when we say Royal, we mean it. When Hester Davenport met us at the train station on the day we went to Windsor, one of the first things she asked Victoria, myself and Brooke was, "I forgot to ask . . . did you want to see the Queen?"
"Ha Ha . . . see the Queen! Really, Hester, you are too funny."
"No, I mean it," Hester replied. "I quite forgot when we made our date that today is Royal Ascot. The Royal Family will be leaving the Castle at 1:30. I need to know if you're interested in seeing them in order to plan our day."
Were we interested in seeing the Royals?!?
Honestly, I don't know if all the pomp and circumstance we were treated to from then on was connected to the Royals and Ascot, but the entire day was pretty royal, if you ask us. First of all, we saw the Guards approaching the Castle . . . .
Victoria believes they were Welsh Guards (as seen from the Guildhall).
And later we saw the Guards leaving the Castle led by a drum major
Hey, haven't I seen these guys on a postcard somewhere?
They carry some pretty lethal-looking weapons
Honestly, the entire morning was grand. We bought our Castle tickets and viewed Queen Mary's Doll House (which is an incredible structure indeed. Maybe I'll do a blog just on doll houses someday, one of V's minor passions)
and visited the nearby exhbition of photos of the young Queen Elizabeth and her late sister Margaret, plus the royal children and grandchildren. Wasn't (isn't) she adorable?
Soon, it was time for us to queue up to see the Royal motorcade leaving the Castle for Ascot and so we all got wristbands for re-entry into the Castle later and went to claim our places along the drive leading to Ascot.
Above is the Queen's departure point at the Castle, and she drives down the Long Drive
right past all of us gapers. In the distance, closer to
Ascot, she transfers into an open carriage, as does the entire royal party, to parade into the racetrack in their finery. We saw quite a few people around town in the morning dressed in those quirky hats that British ladies so adore.
The crowd wasn't as large as I'd expected and we found spots right near the Castle gates. Can I tell you how thrilling this was? Of course, it can't compare to that time I encountered Prince Charles by chance in London, but it certainly came in second.
Here's the unedited video I shot of the Royal Family motorcade. You'll hear Vicky asking the policeman which side of the car the Queen will be on and you'll here me saying, "Here they come!"
What a bunch of tourists.
You'll also have heard me asking where Chuck was, as I hadn't spotted him then. I was a tad occupied with gawking, waving and taking video. However, the blow-up of the photo taken by Victoria below may indeed show Chuck in the front passenger seat. That's Camilla in the rear in red.
I blew up a few frames from the video clip, which will give you only a slightly better view of the Queen. And Prince Phillip. Actually, once the motorcade had gone by, I asked Brooke if she'd been able to get a clear view. She said yes, she'd seen just fine. "But," she said, "Who was that old guy sitting next to the Queen?"
Here's a picture from the web of what she looked like in the carriage, June 15, 2010, at Ascot.
At this point, we returned to the Castle in order to complete our tour, our Royal sightings now just a fond memory. In the above aerial photo, the Queen's residence in the Upper Ward is at the top, right. The round tower and its garden/moat is in the upper middle, and the state rooms are in the area just above the Round Tower, at the right. Toward the lower left, you can see St. George's chapel and the middle and lower wards surrounded by thick walls.
Whoops, another royal in the sign on the ticket office, which one suspects might be meant to portray Henry VIII.
and this equestrian statue of Charles II as you're heading into the Castle grounds.
Finally, Kristine bought some ornaments to add to her Royal Christmas tree ornament collection, this guard being one of about eight she finally came home with, including ornaments meant to be the young Victoria and Albert.
God Save The Queen.
The Round Tower is the dominant feature of the castle. It is sort of a remnant from the original fortress built here by none other then William the Conqueror almost a thousand years ago.
All over the castle grounds are lovely gardens.
Just a couple of the gorgeous roses that proliferate in England in June.
As we walked back to the Tourist's entrance to the state rooms, we stopped to admire the view of Eton College, across the river from Windsor.
A few more guards on patrol.
The state rooms are overwhelming in their magnificence. These areas have been updated since the days of George IV (1762-1830, but are based on the designs he approved for the remodeling of Windsor. We all know him (once the Prince Regent) as a profligate spender, but much of what he created has lasted quite well. Above, the Grand Staircase.
At left, the Crimson Drawing room.
The Waterloo Chamber is adorned with paintings of all the Allied Heads of State as commissioned by George IV from Sir Thomas Lawrence. Kristine and Victoria are particularly fond of the portrait of our pal, Artie, the Duke of Wellington.
When we finished touring the State Rooms in Windsor Castle, we sat outside and rested up (all but the photographer, of course). Left to right: Kristine (holding her ornaments), Brooke (thrilled to have seen Henry VIII's grave0 and Hester Davenport (the best guide for a day out in Windsor).
Their website has a 360 degree tour.
Apartments and meetings rooms are built into the walls of the lower ward. Here is one rather colorful section.
About 300 people work in the castle and about half live on the premises.
If you plan a trip to Windsor, just a quick train ride from London, be sure to allow a whole day to see the Castle, the chapel, the grounds, the town and its charming restaurants and shops.
Labels: Kristine Hughes, London and Waterloo Tour, Victoria Hinshaw