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Royals and Rail: UK Train Journeys Fit for a King

28 April 2023

Rail travel has played an important part in British Royal life since Queen Victoria hopped aboard the Paddington train from Slough - and King Charles III, who had an input into the 1980s redesign of the Royal Train, is already upholding this tradition.

January's overnight journey from Ayr to Manchester signified the latest link between Royals and rail. It's a relationship that works both ways as royal locations feature on some of the country's most beautiful rail journeys.

With King Charles' coronation being held on Saturday 6 May, now is the ideal time to look at how we can make the most of the celebrations by experiencing some of the special places in the monarch's life from the comfort of a train.

Wales: When the Principality Met Its Prince

We couldn't start anywhere else when discussing incredible locations from the life of the former Prince of Wales. The principality has remained a cherished place for the now-king since he was invested as prince here as a 20-year-old.

Pomp and pageantry descended upon the UNESCO-listed Caernarfon Castle on 1 July 1969 as Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon her eldest son ceremonial items including a sword and coronet. While the fortress is quieter today, the castle's striking polygonal towers and honeycomb network of tunnels continue to impress as one of the best examples of medieval defensive architecture in Europe.

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Caernarfon can be visited as part of our Railways and Castles of Wales escorted tour.

To the south of Caernarfon, across the soaring heights of Snowdonia, is the beautiful coastal town of Aberystwyth. Viewers of Netflix's The Crown may be aware that it was here that the 21-year-old prince studied Welsh for a term. You too can take a Welsh lesson at Aberystwyth University on our Valleys and Railways of Mid Wales tour.

Scotland: A Family Favourite

From Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II, Scotland has long been beloved by British monarchs.

The 50,000-acre Balmoral estate elicits images of majestic stags, beautiful Highland wilderness, and the Royal Family. The memorable photograph of Charles with his sisters, parents and corgis on a picnic blanket in front of the house signifies how close their Scottish holiday home was to their hearts.

It is rumoured that King Charles may open the Deeside residence to the public in honour of his late mother. Our Royal Deeside and Tornado Steam Train tour takes in Balmoral and the neighbouring Lochnagar whisky distillery, where you can raise a toast to King Charles III.

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At the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile lies the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the King's official residence in the Scottish capital. It was here in 1965 as a 16-year-old that Charles carried out his first public duty in Scotland and, in October 2022, his first official reception as King. Holyroodhouse features on our Edinburgh, Stirling and Dalhousie Castle tour.

England: Residences, retreats and remembrance

Imagine being born in one of the most famous buildings in the world. Think of almost any US film or TV series that features London - it's almost certain that Buckingham Palace will be included. It is where the King was born on 14 November 1948 and where, in the Music Room four weeks later, he was christened. Since it became the official London residence of monarchs in 1837, it has been synonymous with the Royal Family.

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There is speculation that King Charles and Queen Camilla may be making the short move down The Mall from nearby Clarence House to Buckingham Palace in future months.

Standing in acres of parkland in central London, this neoclassical palace features in our Grand Tour of the UK.

Sandringham in western Norfolk has been the private country retreat of the Royals since 1862. It's also where the first televised Christmas broadcast took place in 1952. King Charles has already announced plans to increase the grounds' biodiversity by installing a climate-friendly topiary garden. We visit the estate as part of our Norwich, Sandringham and the Norfolk Broads tour.

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King Charles III visited our home city of York in November 2022, where he unveiled a statue of the late Queen Elizabeth II at the incredible York Minister, and returned in early April to open the Refectory. The spectacular cathedral is honouring the coronation by hosting an exhibition of Royal treasures. A visit to York Minster is included on the Grand Tour of the UK and Yorkshire and Northumberland tour.

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Northern Ireland: A Gorgeous Georgian Home

The historic Royal palace of Hillsborough Castle lies at the heart of the beautiful County Down village that shares its name.

This Georgian country house is the home of the British Royal Family when they spend time in Northern Ireland and was visited by King Charles III on his tour of the nations in September 2022.

Hillsborough Castle and its meticulous ornamental lawns are included on our epic Celtic celebration The Best of Scotland and Ireland.