Touring Parliament, Churchill’s War Rooms, and the East End

Last weekend M and I watched “Darkest Hour,” the Academy Award-nominated film about Winston Churchill, and we recognised several locations. It reminded me I never wrote about a few things we did in London in December that weren’t actually Christmas-related.

Tour of Parliament


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Visiting the Queen’s Homes

That’s right, last autumn Her Maj had us round for a tour of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Well, she didn’t exactly lead us around herself, but still.

Buckingham Palace State Rooms

When the queen goes to Balmoral Castle, her holiday house in Scotland, from the end of July through September, she opens the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace for touring. We went on the last day it was open, October 1, along with my parents.

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Diana: Her Fashion Story

This morning I met my friend Melissa, who’s also an American living in London (our husbands work together), at Kensington Palace for the new exhibition titled Diana: Her Fashion Story.‚Äč

Queen Victoria welcomes you to Kensington Palace

I have a membership to the Historic Royal Palaces, which gets me into Kensington Palace for free, but this was the first time I’ve actually gone in. Which, naturally, led to this train of thought this morning:

Don’t the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge call Kensington Palace their official residence? So there’s actually a chance I could be in the same building at the same time as Princess Kate?

Then, of course, I faced the age-old conundrum: What does one wear when going to the palace home of a princess? What if we both showed up wearing the same thing? I mean, how embarrassing. I decided to save dear Kate from any feelings of awkwardness and selected a cardigan from Target. Okay, so I may not own any haute couture myself, but I do enjoy the spectator sport of ogling celebrities dressed up for big events. And Diana was major in the fashion world.


It was fun to see so many of her dresses she was famously photographed in up close. For the most part, her ’90s wear was really good, but even the People’s Princess couldn’t make ’80s fashion age well. (The exhibit referred to it as her “Dynasty period.”)



How she sat down in this one is beyond me


She wore this one to the Christie’s auction where she auctioned off many of her dresses to raise money for humanitarian causes


Some of the designs she collaborated on with the designers; some include her notes

The exhibition isn’t enormous, so it doesn’t take too long to get through, so we had time to wander around some of the other rooms at the palace open for touring. Then we headed to the cafe for tea and scones.

Thinking of doing my parlour room in this Diana wallpaper*
*I don’t really have a parlour room

Alas, there were no living royals sightings this time. I’ll just have to go back and try again!

This way to the “throne” rooms! (The royal baby changing room still stank of dirty nappies. Now we know.)