Join this fantastic full-day tour of London's highlights starting with the Tower of London, the former prison and home to the glittering Crown Jewels. This iconic building has a gruesome and fascinating history, being the execution site of three Queens of England, which you'll find out all about during your visit. Your early morning tour means you'll be among the first to enter the Jewel House and view the spectacular crown jewels, which have been locked up for safekeeping here for the last 600 years. These are the official regalia and vestments used by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom during the coronation ceremony and other noble appearances. Imagine magnificent orbs, swords, rings and, of course, crowns and scepters, basically your British Monarchy starter pack. During your visit you will also see the famous White Tower, where it is said that the 'Princes in the Tower' were held and supposedly murdered by Their Uncle Richard III to usurp the throne from their father, King Edward IV.
Then it's time to step aboard a relaxing river shuttle as the tour heads up the Thames. Enjoy the sights as your guide points out major landmarks on your way to seeing the unmissable Changing of the Guard. This world-famous ceremony takes place either at Buckingham Palace or at Horse Guards Parade, depending on the day. Your guide will make sure you are in a prime position to enjoy the best views at this crowded event and will regale you with colorful commentary that other travelers miss. Find out the history and pageantry behind the ceremony, as the Queen's Foot Guards, with their red tunics and bearskin hats march to Buckingham Palace. (Please note that this experience is subject to weather conditions). End the morning portion of your tour at Buckingham Palace, the residence of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh and see the famous balcony where the royal family appears during major events.
Scout out one of the great lunch spots the city has to offer before rejoining the group and guides for a stroll around Trafalgar Square, home to the National Gallery and Nelson's Column, then down Whitehall, the center of Her Majesty's Government. This recognizable street is lined with government departments and ministries, including the old Palace of Whitehall, which burned down in the 17th century, leaving only the Banqueting Hall still standing. It is from this building that King Charles II stepped onto the scaffolding to be executed in 1649. You will also view the Horse Guards, guarded by the Household Cavalry in their sentry boxes, wearing their plumed silver helmets and mounted on their magnificent steeds.
Next you'll visit Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister, before arriving at Parliament Square, where you will be treated to spectacular views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, home to the British Parliament. Finally visit glorious Westminster Abbey, site of royal coronations and weddings, including the recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton in 2011.