Listening to RS podcasts today re: London. A guest on the podcast mentioned signing up for the opening daily ceremony at the Tower of London. By doing so, one could see the ceremony and then have early access to the Crown Jewels before the crowds formed. Anyone familiar with this? How might I secure this tour?
Contact Historic Royal Palaces via their website. I did find a couple a tours that offer this option but they seem a little sketchy and not run by HRP.
Last time I was in London, I bought a membership which gave me entrance to all of the Historic Royal Palaces (Tower of London, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House and Kew Palace.) The best part is with the membership, you can skip the line and sail right in. You also get a discount on restaurants and gift shops. I was at the gate when it opened, flashed my membership card and then almost ran to the jewel tower to be alone with the jewels.
I also had afternoon tea at Kensington Palace and it was amazing. One of the waiters was a little bit rude to me since I was solo, then I put my membership card on the table and he was suddenly much nicer.
Regarding the Crown Jewels - the best way I've found to beat the queue is to be there when the Tower opens (1000 or 1030, if I recall correctly). Once you are in, make a bee line for the Crown Jewels. You'll get a much better view of the collection as the crowds will not have had time to gather. I have heard of the opening ceremony tour you mention, but havent done it myself. There are parts of the collection that you pass on people movers (flat escallators). When I was there last, my wife and I used the strategy I mentioned above. Security graciously allowed us to take 'a couple laps' as there werent many people yet. Later in the day, this would have been a non-starter.
My experience in December 2016 was as Tom described. Was there for opening, made beeline for Crown Jewels and did 3 laps because there was basically no one else in line. Then I went to the White Tower where I must have been the first guest of the day, because the security staff all seemed surprised and quickly took up their positions in the various rooms….and THEN I circled back to the entrance for a yeoman warder tour. Enjoy your visit.
This tour is sold by various tour operators:
- Use the early entrance to be the first people inside the Jewel House
- See the Crown Jewels without any of the crowds
- Be one of the selected few to witness the Opening Ceremony
- Take a fully guided tour of the Tower highlights, including the White Tower, the Bloody Tower
- See the Torture Chamber, the old execution site, the Ravens, and the Tower Walls
Description - See the Crown Jewels without the crowds and take a fully
guided tour of one of the most spectacular medieval castles in Europe
on this VIP visit to the Tower of London. With skip the line, early
entrance, you’ll get to watch the famous Opening Ceremony before being
among the first into the Jewel House to see the Crown Jewels. Then
you’ll tour the very best parts of the tower and learn the pivotal
roles they played in the bloody history of the United Kingdom.
With a Google search, you'll find many options! This is quite popular, but the Ceremony of the Keys - done at the end of the day - is more popular!
As a member I can say that if you have the discipline to buy your normal ticket ahead, and get there just before they open, you too can be one of the first inside, and if you follow the plan to do Jewels first, then White Tower, then walls, then Beefeater Tour - which is reverse order from what the vast majority do - you will do what you want to do (except for the short opening ceremony) for much less money, and at your own speed.
The tours mentioned are of course in cooperation with Historic Royal Palaces, but are nothing to do with them.
Thank you for the reply. I will do this. Arrive early, beeline to see the jewels, then take in the rest.