The Royal Connection: Windsor & Eton

Only 40 minutes by train from London, you don’t need a royal wedding to visit the twin towns of Windsor and Eton

Published: 15 May 2018, Photos: Josephine Skapare

SEE AND DO

ROYAL WEDDING VENUE

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, where the Queen spends her weekends. Forty monarchs have resided in this Castle. Be sure to time your visit with the Castle’s change of guards at 11.00 a.m. each day. If you happen to be outside the castle before this time, you can watch the New Guards procession on the main road toward the castle. Not to be missed is St George’s Chapel inside the Castle compound, where Prince Harry was baptised. It is also here that he will wed Meghan Markle on Saturday, 19 May.

GET AN EDUCATION

Across the river is the town of Eton, most famously known for the prestigious Eton College, where Prince Harry and Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, both studied. Visit on a Sunday afternoon and learn everything about Eton at the Eton Museum on the college grounds.

WALK THE CARRIAGE WAY

Take a stroll up the tree-lined ‘Long Walk’ in Windsor Great Park, the path the Queen and visiting Heads of States travel in their carriages towards the Castle. Monuments such as the Copper Horse, the Obelisk and Roman ruins imported from Libya are scattered across the park amid the beautiful lawns and ancient oaks that are alive with wildlife.

ROYAL ENGAGEMENT

Prince Harry and Meghan took their engagement photos at Frogmore House in Windsor Home Park, where the pair went on a picnic date last summer. Frogmore House is open to visitors only on selected days in the year, so check in advance when planning your visit.

WALK WITH THE QUEEN

Joining 63 points of interest is the Queens Walkway, a self-guided walking route around Windsor that links the major attractions and viewing points in town, with views across the river to Eton. Pick up a map and walking directions from the Information Centre to begin your tour!

DISCOVER ETON

Across the River Thames is Eton, a small town that has great importance in history. The best way to learn about Eton is to follow the self-guided Eton Walkway, signposted by bronze Eton coat of arms markers on the ground and trails many of Eton’s most significant historical and cultural sights.

GO OPEN TOP

While Windsor is relatively easy to walk around, it may be more entertaining to get on the top deck of The Original Tour Windsor bus and have the attractions pointed out and explained to you. The bus will also cross the river and pass Eton College along the way and is a good way to get orientated around this Royal town. Parts of the tour follow the route of the wedding procession!

TAKE TO THE RIVER

There is no better way to enjoy such a quintessentially English town than to take a leisurely trip on the Thames to learn some of the interesting facts about Windsor and Eton, as well as take in the beautiful sights along the way. The French Brothers offer 40-minute to two-hour-long tours departing from the riverside pier near Windsor Bridge.

SHOP AND EAT

HISTORIC PUB EXPERIENCE

Dine at the historical Prince Arthur, a traditional British pub that has been serving beers and pub grub since 1877. A friendly establishment, this is where locals gather for good food, good beers and great conversations.

RIVERSIDE DINING

At Windsor’s only riverside pub, The Boatman has fantastic views of the Thames across to Eton village. With great British cuisine made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients, it is the gastropub of choice for a casual meal.

STAY AND DINE GEORGIAN

On the Eton side of the river, The George Inn offers bed and breakfast, as well as all-day dining in a lovely Georgian building. It is the first pub run by the local Windsor & Eton Brewery Company, and the signature Steak and Guardsman Ale pie is a must-try.

BUY ROYAL PRODUCE

The Royal Estate of Windsor operates a mixed farm, producing its own quality food available for the public to purchase. The Windsor Farm Shop is where you can stock up on fresh produce or luxury gourmet hampers to take home. The shop café is great for a spot of afternoon tea.

FITTING THE GENTLEMEN

Befittingly, it is in Eton that you will find a traditional gentlemen’s outfitter store. New & Lingwood has been creating bespoke gentlemen’s clothing for more than 150 years and is still the place for the Eton boys to get their smart uniforms and race suits. 

SHOP AND DINE ARCADE STYLE

Set up in the style of a semi-outdoors, Grade II listed Victorian Railway Station opposite Windsor Castle, Windsor Royal Shopping is a great shopping and dining destination. Check out the original features including Jubilee Arch, the cobbled stones and Queen Victoria's Royal Waiting Room.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

FIELDS OF GOLD

Spring brings blossoms of daffodils across the country, but nowhere as much as the Daffodil Valley in The Valley Garden of Windsor Great Park. This is where you’ll get England’s largest display of daffodils, amid the fantastic array of azaleas, camellias and magnolias.

ONE FOR THE EQUESTRIANS

The Queen has a soft spot for her horses; for the equestrian enthusiasts, the Royal Windsor Horse Show is the event to go for. This is the only time when the public can access the private grounds of Windsor Castle. It features events such as Show Jumping, Dressage and Carriage Driving, as well as displays from various royal guards and regiments. Happening on 9-13 May.

WATCH POLO

The Queen first presented the trophy in 1960, and the Cartier Queen’s Cup is now one of the top five polo tournaments in the world. Held at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park, it is a key event in the English social season. From 22 May to 17 June.

GO TO THE RACES

Watch the Royal Procession from Golden Gates into the Parade Ring at Royal Ascot, arguably the highlight of the British social calendar, when tradition, pageantry, fashion and style come together for the excitement of the race. On 19-23 June.

COUNT THE SWANS

Swan Upping is an annual population census of the mute swans on the River Thames, performed by Her Majesty’s Swan Warden and the Royal Swan Uppers in traditional wooden rowing boats. This may be a bizarre sight for foreign visitors but is a historic ceremony that dates from the 12th century when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans. On 16-20 July.

THEATRE FESTIVAL

Festival lovers will love the mixed programmes at the Windsor Fringe Festival, where music, drama and visual arts of all kinds entertain the Windsor crowds. Enjoy an informative walk around Windsor or take part in a gastronomy event and soak up the lively atmosphere this festival often brings! From 21 September to 6 October.

GET YOUR SKATES ON

During the winter months in Alexandra Gardens, you can ice skate in the shadow of Windsor Castle. Windsor On Ice has a main indoor skating rink and a smaller outdoor rink, as well as a Christmas-market-style food court to relax with a mug of mulled wine. Traditionally held from November to January, check windsoronice.com for 2018 dates.

PRINCELY STAYS

BOUTIQUE

A boutique hotel right around the corner from Windsor Castle, Castle Hotel Windsor offers amiable and elegant rooms in the heart of Windsor. Appearing first in 1528 as The Mermaid Inn, by the 1700s, the innkeeper was awarded the first of the hotel’s eight Royal Warrants to provide horses and carriages for the royal household. You could say this hotel has always been part of Windsor’s historical fingerprint.

RIVERSIDE

Named after the renowned architect, the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel is a charming riverside accommodation in central Windsor with a series of rooms that offer classic wood décor, some with private balconies for views of the river and Eton.

COUNTRYSIDE LUXURY

Enjoy the beautiful countryside of Windsor and stay at brand new The Langley, opening in summer 2018. Part of the Luxury Collection Hotel, The Langley is the Duke of Marlborough’s restored former country estate and offers luxury accommodation with designer landscapes.

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