Windsor Castle has laid on some rather special exhibitions and events during the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympics super summer. If you are heading to the UK for these once in a lifetime events, or if you are simply traveling to London and the Southeast for a holiday break, leave some time in your schedule for the short train or bus trip from London to Windsor to enjoy one or both of these:
The Queen: 60 Photographs for 60 Years
An exhibition celebrating HM Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne is made up of a selection of 60 photographs, representing each of the six decades since 1952 when she became the Sovereign. The pictures, presented for the exhibition by individual photographers and photo agencies, show the Queen during the key events of her life, in her world travels, and in informal, family situations.
In case you're imagining that an exhibition of 60 photographs could be dry and dull, it's worth mentioning that many of the pictures are, in fact, quite poignant. They include:
- Three Queens in Mourning a picture taken by an unknown photographer on February 11, 1952 and donated by the Universal Pictorial Press Agency, shows the new Queen Elizabeth II joined her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and her grandmother, Queen Mary, all in mourning veils as they await the coffin of King George VI outside Westminster Hall, where it would lie in state. Windsor Castle's famous doll house was made for Queen Mary.
- Coronation Day, taken by an unknown photographer and donated by Getty Images on June 2 1953, is a portrait of a lonely and pensive young woman. Sitting in the elaborate Gold State Coach, the Queen, beside the Duke of Edinburgh (whose face is obscured by the coach), the Queen awaits her departure for Westminster Abbey, where she will be crowned.
- The Badminton Horse Trials In this photo, taken on April 21, 1968 by John Scott, and donated by Alpha Press, the Queen is shown very much "off duty" watching her favorite event in the sunshine. She's leaning in a relaxed pose on a Land Rover while the Duke of Edinburgh gets a good view sitting on the roof of the car.
- The Queen with President Reagan George de Keerle captured a picture of the Queen and the late President Reagan on horseback in the grounds of Windsor Castle on June 8, 1982. President and Mrs. Reagan were the first American presidential couple to stay at Windsor Castle. The picture was donated by Getty Images.
This wonderful collection of pictures will be exhibited in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle until October 28, 2012, after which it will move to the Queen's Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, from November 16, 2012 to February 24, 2013.
Conquer the Tower Tours
The famous Round Tower at Windsor Castle is undoubtedly its most internationally recognized feature and one of Britain's most iconic landmarks. The hill it occupies is the oldest part of the castle, dating to the original Norman fortress built by William the Conqueror.
Not normally open to the public, in 2012 the Round Tower will be opened for 45-minute guided tours on selected dates between June 4 and July 31 and then every day from August 1 to September 30. Visitors who are able to climb the 200 steps to the top and who don't suffer from claustrophobia or fear of heights, will get an unmatched view of the castles more than 13 acres. The tower is 65.5 meters (about 213 feet) above the Thames and the views take in the London skyline and several counties. A highlight is the Long Walk, a five-kilometer (2.65 miles), tree-lined path created by Charles II, extending from the south of the Castle deep into Windsor Great Park. The Conquer the Tower Tours add a few extra pounds to the normal admission price for the Castle.
For more information about these and other events taking place at Windsor Castle, visit the castle website.