Kensington Palace is a wedding venue with very royal links
(photo JR P via Flickr)
There's much excitement about the realisation that Kensington Palace is licensed for civil marriages - maybe it's all this talk of Harry and Meghan stepping up their romance with a lovebird trip to Norway and a cuppa with Kate and Charlotte on their return. But KP isn't the only grand building with royal links where happy couples can say 'I do'. Here are ten right royal locations for a civil wedding...curtsies to the groom's granny on the way out are optional.
Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
With plenty of royal love stories linked to its ancient walls, it's no wonder Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds has won prizes as a romantic wedding venue. It's most famous for its links with Katherine Parr, last wife of Henry VIII, who came to live here in the year after the king's death with her fourth husband. Yep, Henry met his match in her. Her grave is in St Mary's Church in the grounds which offers Church of England weddings as well as blessings. The civil marriage ceremonies usually take place in the panelled library of Sudeley. History's best known royal bridegroom, Henry VIII, also brought wife number two, Anne Boleyn, here while their daughter, Elizabeth I, dined in its banqueting hall - its ruins are among the most spectacular spots for wedding photos at the castle. Richard III spent time here and it was also an early home of Eleanor Butler, the woman he claimed had secretly married his big brother, Edward IV. That claim led to a famous battle and the start of the Tudor dynasty. Sudeley packs a real royal punch.
Did someone say Henry VIII? Let's face it, the king of catching queens was always going to play a large part in any run down of royal wedding venues and he's got a link to a very pretty castle in Kent which is one of the most popular wedding venues in the south east. Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, arguably Henry's best known queen. Anne grew up amidst its stone walls and her family's coat of arms sits above the Dining Hall at Hever - it's here, or in the smaller Inner Hall, that weddings are held in the castle. There's also the option to say 'I do' in the Tudor style surrounds of the 1903 wing built by William Waldorf Astor or in the Italian Garden designed for his collection of sculptures. Anne of Cleves also owned the castle, briefly, following her divorce from Henry VIII. A treat for Tudor brides and grooms all round.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Theirs is among the greatest of all royal love stories so a wedding at Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's home on the Isle of Wight, Osborne House, is all set for romance. The Italianate house was designed by Albert himself and it was a favourite residence for him, Victoria and their nine children. Weddings are held in the Duchess of Kent Suite where George V and Queen Mary honeymooned or on the terrace where Victoria liked to take her bacon and eggs of a morning. There's also the option to say 'I do' on the private beach beloved of the second longest reigning monarch in British history. A right royal romantic setting.
If Harry and Meghan do provide us with a royal wedding in 2017 then they don't even need to get the carriages out of the mews, they can just pop downstairs. Kensington Palace is licensed for civil ceremonies and the Orangery, where the weddings take place, can set up to 150 so it will make the invite list a lot simpler. The palace has so much royal history that your guests could spend the whole reception just talking about that. It was built by William III and Mary II, became the childhood home of Queen Victoria and in the late 20th century was the residence of many royals including Diana, Princess of Wales. Now home to William, Harry, Kate, George and Charlotte, this is a royal wedding venue with something for everyone.
Let's get all dramatic, shall we? Berkeley Castle is beautiful, can trace its roots back to the Norman Conquest and was the scene of one of the greatest royal mysteries ever. Edward II was held here after his deposition by his wife, Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, and died at the castle in mysterious circumstances- rumours of murder have persisted for centuries. Civil weddings can now take place in the 14th century Great Hall, filled with stained glass windows, or in the Long Drawing Room while if the weather is good, the gardens are ready for drinks and nibbles before the reception. Just keep an eye out for any pale chaps called Edward asking for seconds....