Group visits from Royal Collection Trust 2023–24
Royal Collection Trust has announced its programme of group visits and private tours at the official residences of His Majesty The King for 2023–24.
At Windsor Castle, visitors will be able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest and most famous dolls’ house in the world.
Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse will be spectacularly decorated this Christmas, while at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, a major exhibition of Hans Holbein’s portraits from the Tudor court will go on display until April 2024.
In 2024, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews will once again welcome groups to explore one of the few working royal palaces remaining in the world today.
Groups will be offered the special opportunity to experience a private talk and view of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House from March to October 2024 (excluding July and August).
In 2024, Royal Collection Trust will mark 100 years since the Dolls’ House was built to showcase the best of British craftsmanship and design in the aftermath of the First World War. It was put on display at Windsor Castle the following year and has a remained one of the highlights of a visit ever since. Through a talk and a private viewing without the crowds, groups will explore the history of the house and its contents, and learn how modern conservators meticulously care for this world in miniature, from its working lifts and electric lights to the fully stocked wine cellar, all at 1:12 scale.
From 30 November 2023, visitors to Windsor Castle will see the State Apartments transformed with shimmering Christmas trees and twinkling lights to celebrate the festive season. The highlight of the display will be the 20-foot-high Nordmann Fir Christmas tree in St George's Hall, taken from Windsor Great Park and dressed with hundreds of iridescent ornaments.
This year’s Christmas display at Windsor Castle will celebrate the 675th anniversary of the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in Britain which was founded in Windsor in 1348. In the Waterloo Chamber, the 160-foot-long dining table will be laid with porcelain from the Garter Service. Originally created as private apartments for George IV and used by members of the Royal Family for official entertaining, the Semi-State Rooms have opened to visitors for the winter months until Sunday, 24 March 2024.
Between March and October 2024, the special visit Queen Elizabeth II’s Life at the Castle will once again be available to groups, offering the chance to learn how Windsor remained a constant throughout the late Queen’s life, from her childhood during wartime to countless state occasions and personal moments over the course of her 70-year reign. Both special visits include a chance for groups to explore the State Apartments at their leisure with a multimedia tour.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Groups can explore 900 years of Scottish royal history and learn how the Palace has been used historically and how it is still used today
by His Majesty and other members of the Royal Family for official ceremonies and entertaining.
Visitors can also explore the medieval ruins of Holyrood Abbey and the Palace gardens, set against the spectacular landscape of Arthur’s Seat.
This Christmas at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, a 15-foot-high Christmas tree will feature in the Great Gallery, while the Great Stair leading to the historic State Apartments will be draped with twinkling velvet garlands, glistening berries and seasonal foliage. In the Café at the Palace in the Mews courtyard, visitors can enjoy homemade mince pies, Christmas cake and mulled wine surrounded by wreaths and garlands.
Throughout the year, groups can enjoy private guided after-hours tours of the Palace and learn about its most famous inhabitants, from Mary, Queen of Scots to Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the Palace’s role today as The King’s official residence in Scotland. These tours are the only opportunity to see the West Drawing Room, used by His Majesty and members of the Royal Family as a private drawing room. Tours include a guidebook and a glass of champagne.
During the summer months groups can visit Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of His Majesty The King. Visitors can explore the State Rooms, which play host to ceremonial occasions and official entertaining, where The King and members of the Royal Family welcome guests from all walks of life.
The Garden Highlights Tour explains the history of Buckingham Palace’s 39-acre garden, taking groups to the beautiful Herbaceous Border, the wisteria-clad summer house and Rose Garden, the Waterloo Vase and the Palace tennis court, where King George VI and Fred Perry played in the 1930s. Between the multimedia tour of the State Rooms and the guided tour of the garden, the itinerary allows time for groups to take in panoramic views of the lawn and the lake, enjoy tea and cakes from the Garden Café and to visit the Garden Shop.
The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace
Since the 19th century, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace has been home to the royal collection of coaches and carriages, and has overseen the transport arrangements for the Royal Family during State and ceremonial occasions, including coronations, royal weddings and Trooping the Colour. Visitors will have a chance to get up close to the dazzling Gold State Coach, which has carried every monarch to their coronation since 1831 and recently played a starring role at the Coronation of King Charles III in 2023. The Mews is also home to the Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays, the horses that pull the carriages.
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
This winter, a major exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace will bring together over 100 works from Henry VIII’s court, including drawings, paintings and miniatures by Hans Holbein the Younger drawn from the Royal Collection, one of the most important surviving groups of the artist’s work. Together, they will form the largest group of Holbein’s works from the Royal Collection to be exhibited in over 30 years.
Holbein at the Tudor Court will highlight works from Holbein’s time at court in the first half of the 16th century, when he rose to become the most important artist in Tudor England. This exhibition will tell the story of Holbein’s career in England, from itinerant artist to king’s painter, showing how the vibrant international court culture he found on his arrival in London formed a fertile ground for his future success. Groups will be able to enjoy private access to the exhibition before it opens to the public in Private Morning Visits. After-hours Private Evening Talks and Views will give groups the chance to engage in more depth with Holbein and his work, enjoying an introductory talk by an expert guide before viewing the exhibition at their leisure.