The year 2011 will be remembered as the year of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate (Catherine) Middleton - 11am at Westminster Abbey on 29th April 2011. The couple became engaged during a private holiday to Kenya in October 2010. A public holiday has been declared for the day of the wedding.
The Royals have very strong connections with the Cotswolds and here we give some of the salient details.
Cheltenham Racecourse, famous for its Gold Cup Festival, much loved by the Queen Mother and visited by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. Prince William’s girlfriend Kate Middleton attended the race meetings in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as many other royals and famous celebrities, who come to enjoy the excitement and the atmosphere of Gold Cup Week in the month of March.
The Regency town of Cheltenham is where Zara Phillips (Queen's eldest granddaughter) and fiancé Mike Tindall have their home. They live in a Regency Town House bought for £1m in 2009. The visit of King George III put the Spa town on the map.
King George III, Queen Charlotte and three of their daughters arrived in Cheltenham with their royal entourage on 12 July 1788. In fact George was suffering the early stages of a rare genetic disorder called porphyria, which is caused by the insufficient production of haemoglobin. The symptoms included irritating rashes, cramps and difficulty in breathing. The Royal party stayed in Cheltenham for five weeks and King George enjoyed going for walks, attending theatre plays and exploring the surrounding areas.
Gatcombe Park is the private country home of Anne, Princess Royal, situated between the Gloucestershire villages of Minchinhampton and Avening, five miles (8 km) south of Stroud and around six miles (10 km) north of Highgrove House, the country residence of Prince Charles.
The house and farming estate were bought by Queen Elizabeth II in 1976 for Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips at the price of £5 million. The previous owner was Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a former Home Secretary, who had inherited the house from his father-in-law, Samuel Courtauld. Courtauld had acquired it from the Ricardo family, owners from 1814 (when the estate was bought by the political economist David Ricardo) to 1940.
The old Roman town of Cirencester is where Princess Anne and Princess Diana and their families have enjoyed shopping from time to time. Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry often play polo here.
The attractive market town of Tetbury, famous for its Woolsack Races and antique shops is the location of Highgrove shop opened by Prince Charles in 2008. Tetbury shops have served the Royal Household for many years and some have gained the prestigious Royal Warrant.
Highgrove, not far from Tetbury, is the Cotswold home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. Famous for its beautiful gardens that can be visited by the public only by booking well in advance. The Highgrove Garden is normally open from April until October and
tours take place on weekdays only.
Berkeley Castle is located in the small town of Berkeley near the edge of the Cotswolds. For centuries, the Berkeley family were close to Royalty, able administrators and fighters who supported their king or queen (as long as they could), backed the winning side, and married well. The Castle, naturally enough, is full of stories.
Berkeley Castle's place in history is significant, not just because it is still intact, but because the Berkeley family and their home have played an important part in the power struggles of so many centuries. In the year 1215 AD, the castle was the place where the West Country barons assembled en route to their clash with King John (buried in Worcester Cathedral) at Runnymede just before the signing of the Magna Carta. Today the castle is probably best known as the location of the horrific murder of deposed King Edward II. He is buried at Gloucester Cathedral.
The City of Gloucester was visited by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2003 for the Royal Maundy Service. They visited Gloucester again in 2009 on a Royal Naval patrol boat to see the newly transformed Gloucester Docks and then went to enjoy a lunch cooked by students at the nearby college.