If Harry and Meghan’s OTT wedding has wetted your appetite for the red carpet treatment, read on to discover how to rock it like a royal in London.
STERLING SHOPPING SPREE
Whether you’re after an outfit for Ascot, an audience with the Queen, or a rather high-profile wedding, ladies can’t set a foot wrong with British fashion house Catherine Walker. Founded in 1977 by Said Cyrus and his wife, the late Catherine Walker, the label’s famous fans have included Princess Diana, Kate Middleton and her mother, Carole. Visit the showroom in Chelsea for made-to-measure creations, or check out their new “e-couture” service, which enables Catherine Walker to collaborate with your local tailor.
For gentlemen, there’s Gieves & Hawkes, offering ready-to-wear and bespoke luxury menswear. For centuries, it has also produced military regalia, including uniforms for the monarch’s bodyguard, and holds several royal warrants. A custom suit will set you back around £5,000 ($7,000), but you’ll be joining a brotherhood that includes Sean Connery, Winston Churchill, David Beckham and Michael Jackson. A replica of the gold-embroidered tailcoat Jackson wore on his “Bad” tour occupies a glass case in the tailor’s headquarters at 1 Saville Row.
For scent-sational style, follow your nose to Floris, the only perfumer to hold a Royal Warrant from the Queen. Floris has wafted from the wrists of everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Ian Fleming, and they’ve created fragrances for royal weddings dating back to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The exact recipe for Harry and Meghan’s special scent is secret, but word is, the bride will come up smelling like roses.
Peruse a collection of Princess Diana’s most glamorous outfits, including several by Catherine Walker, at “Diana: Her Fashion Story,” on display through the end of the year at Kensington Palace. A separate exhibition, “Victoria Revealed,” offers insight into the life of Queen Victoria and features stunning jewels commissioned for her by Prince Albert.
Kensington Palace is just as relevant to the monarchy today. It was here, in the sunken garden, that Harry and Meghan announced their engagement last November. The location was certainly convenient for Harry, as he, William and Kate all call the palace home—as will Meghan after her marriage. One wonders if the young royals ever pile onto a palace couch and dial up Domino’s delivery while binge-watching “The Crown” on Netflix.
Speaking of “The Crown,” London is rife with film locations for the series. Dewi Evans, a guide for BritMovieTours, offers a two-hour walking tour, beginning at Temple tube station and ending near Buckingham Palace. Evans dishes out the insider scoop as you take in highlights like Middle and Inner Temple, Trafalgar Square, and Admiralty Arch.
“The writer doesn’t really like the royals,” Evans reveals in a conspiratorial tone, “so he’s able to make them much more human.” The series should not, however, be viewed as a documentary. “Did Prince Philip really shag anything that moved?” he asks coyly. “My personal opinion is, probably not. But some things we’ll never know.”
WHERE TO SLEEP LIKE A KING IN LONDON
The Dorchester, with its proximity to Buckingham Palace in London, has hosted Prince Philip, who held his bachelor party here, and Hollywood royalty like Liz Taylor. Legendary dining options include the three-Michelin starred Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, The Promenade (famous for afternoon tea), and The Grill, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with clever mirrored panels that pivot to (literally) reflect a different mood from day to night.
For a taste of the Far East, check out the Cantonese cuisine at The Dorchester’s China Tang. The bar is as legendary for celeb-spotting as cocktail quaffing. Recover the next morning with a pampering session at The Dorchester’s soothing spa.