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May 17, 2012

Travel to London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

By Andrew Sessa | Travel

Travel to London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
Couresty InterContinental London Park Lane

The Summer Olympics in London are still two months away, but a preview of British-style pomp and circumstance arrives June 2 to 5 when the city—and the entire Commonwealth—celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Commemorating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the weekend includes a massive pageant on Sunday of a thousand historic boats on the River Thames, during which Elizabeth and Prince Phillip will sail in the royal barge; a concert at Buckingham Palace on Monday; and a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday, followed by a pair of receptions and a procession by the entire royal family from Westminster to Buckingham Palace. 

While access to most happenings is highly restricted, several top London hotels are offering exclusive opportunities to be part of the festivities.

The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London’s four-day Diamond Jubilee Tour offers stellar access. Guests will watch the Thames pageant from aboard the HMS Belfast, docked opposite the Tower of London, where the queen will disembark from the Royal Barge. Two days later, guests will be on the roof terrace of Carlton House, overlooking the mall, for the Royal Procession. There’s also a jaunt to Henry VIII’s hunting lodge, Penshurst Place, and lunch at the home of Randolph and Catherine Churchill. $10,400 per person; 66 Knightsbridge; 44-20/7235-2000

The InterContinental London Park Lane—built on the site of the queen’s childhood home—has secured access (plus lunch and Champagne) for a lucky few on Shaken Not Stirred, a Sunseeker Superhawk yacht that was in the Bond film The World Is Not Enough. (The boat will be in the Thames pageant.) Sample the Royal Tea—the coffee, walnut cake and gin and Dubonnet cocktails are the queen’s favourites. From $9,700, double occupancy; One Hamilton Pl.; 44-20/7409-3131.

The Stafford London hosts a celebratory viewing party in its charming courtyard under a tent. The Westminster hotel will be decorated with Union Jacks and bunting to create an old-fashioned street festival like those that mark coronations and royal weddings. Live jazz will play, a jumbo screen will show the river pageant and canapés and Champagne will keep things festive. $160 per person; 16–18 St. James’s Pl.; 44-20/7493-0111.

The restaurant Indigo at One Aldwych, the turreted hotel on the Strand, is devoting an entire menu to the event. The dishes, including lobster ravioli, take inspiration from some of the queen’s preferred delicacies. Available at lunch and dinner through June 15; set menu, $67; à la carte, $15; 44-20/7300-1000.

And the The Dorchester and its recently arrived sibling 45 Park Lane offer a particularly practical perk for the Jubilee weekend: complementary use of Leica Silverline binoculars. We hear they fit quite nicely in a sensible handbag. The Dorchester; Park Ln.; 44-20/7629 8888. 45 Park Lane; 44-20/7493-4545.