“Whatever fortune brings, don’t be afraid of doing things.” A.A. Milne
Few buildings stand as greater former symbols of influence over the world than Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria’s seat of Empire. She was the first monarch to live in the Palace which was rebuilt from the earlier ‘Buckingham House’ in 1826. At its height in the 1920s, the British Empire ruled over a quarter of the globe and over 450 million people. It included countries in South Asia, Africa, Australasia and the Americas.
Today, the world is a very different place and the palace is better known as one of London’s best-loved tourist attractions, yet it is one of only a few working palaces in the world. Its environmentally-friendly private gardens sit alongside two of London’s eight Royal Parks, creating a ‘green heart’ in the middle of the city.
Richmond Park - the largest of the Royal Parks - contains more than 1,000 ancient oak trees, some of which predate the enclosure of the park as a royal hunting ground in the 17th century. It is one of the largest concentrations of ancient oaks in Europe. Among its other claims to fame, the park is home to 650 deer that roam freely and more than 1,000 species of beetles.
Every year a census of swans takes place on the Thames. This so-called ‘Swan Upping' ceremony started in the 12th century when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans. Originally the census was used to assess swans for the banquet table but nowadays it is used for conservation. You’ll be relieved to learn the swans are no longer eaten!