In celebration of the highly anticipated wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle, European Waterways is launching a new ‘Royal Cruise,’ which navigates the River Thames aboard the 8-passenger Magna Carta hotel barge. Created through a special arrangement with members of several historic households, the cruise gives guests the “royal treatment,” with private, guided tours of fabulous castles and stately homes as well as onboard luxuries and gourmet meals “fit for a king.” Among itinerary highlights, the vessel moors beneath Windsor Castle and guests enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour that includes St Georges Chapel, site of the pending nuptial, led by a serving Military Knight.
The ‘Royal Cruise’ provides guests an opportunity to stand on some of the most iconic grounds where kings, dukes and earls once walked, in the company of actual descendants of these royal lineages. Thanks to the wedding, Windsor Castle looms large on the itinerary, but it is just one of the many sites and attractions enjoyed by guests as they cruise one of the most idyllic stretches of the River Thames.
Throughout the cruise, the legendary beauty of the English countryside is on full display, populated by royal palaces, majestic homes, and sites steeped in British history. Among these is Highclere Castle, home of the Earl of Carnarvon and the “real” Downton Abbey , where guests will be given exclusive access to the house and grounds in the company of members of the household. Guests also visit Stonor Park, one of the oldest, and still inhabited, stately homes, where the Honorable William Stonor, son of the present Baron Camoys and heir to the title, rewards them with a private tour.
Other exclusive tours include Dorney Court, a 15 th Century Tudor Manor House that should be well-known to fans of master sleuth Hercule Poirot, as much of his escapades were filmed here. Guests will also indulge in a traditional English afternoon tea at the 350-year-old Cliveden estate, former home to William Waldorf Astor, and enjoy a tour of the grounds that include a Parterre , Chinese water garden and topiary. At tea, they will be regaled with a “butler’s talk” from a Cliveden staff member that encompasses the intrigues, secrets and scandals of aristocratic life over the years.
The barge Magna Carta was originally built in the 1930s; her design and interior décor reflect the charm, grace and elegance of its English surroundings. A true “floating country hotel,” it features generous use of fine mahogany, teak and oak woods, and a spacious saloon and dining area with large, picture windows. The décor is complemented by modern conveniences such as underfloor heating, air conditioned en suite cabins, and Wi-Fi.
Whether walking the historic estate of Henry the VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, on a personal guided tour by a member of the palace community, or cruising past the Magna Carta Memorial – the actual site where the document was sealed – the ‘Royal Cruise’ offers a true immersion into British history and its royal families.