Some images of London are iconic. Carnaby Street in its Swinging Sixties heyday, Twiggy with that umbrella, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and of course, that Yeoman on the Beefeater Gin bottle. JUICE took an exclusive trip to the home of this juniper paradise to see how every single drop of the 21 million litres of Beefeater sold annually is distilled. Beefeater HQ carries with it almost 200 years worth of gin-making knowledge and tradition and in pride of place amongst all the memorabilia hangs a Royal Warrant for Beefeater’s own James Hawker & Co Sloe Gin, apparently a favourite tipple of the Queen and Prince Philip. So, in view of the warrant and seeing as the original Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, kept Londoners safe by guarding prisoners of the Crown in the Tower of London, JUICE takes you on a royal trip through London. La-di-da!
Puttin’ on the Ritz
If you’re going to stay anywhere in London, it has to be The Ritz. Its front door opens on to Pall Mall, and it has proper old-fashioned doormen who expect you to tip them mightily. The Royals have half a dozen houses within walking distance – including two palaces: Buckingham and St. James – but you’ll be in with a better chance at Afternoon Tea, a Ritz institution in the Palm Court tearoom. Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie; no exceptions.
Surely the best place to go looking for Royalty is where it lives? You might think that strolling up to the front door of Buckingham Palace and asking if you can come in for a cuppa might be a quick way to success. And the thrice-yearly Garden Parties are a sure-fire way to get some face-time with Queenie and Prince Phil.
A Rolls is okay but as any good royal watcher knows, warrant-holder Aston Martin is really where it’s at. There are plenty of specialist rental joints like Prestige Car Hire that will let you have your pick of models for the day or the weekend. If you really want to attract attention convert a vintage DB6 to run on bioethanol, just like Prince Charles, and he may ring you up to compare notes. His runs on organic white wine from near his Highgrove Estate. Hic!
Your suit may have a Margiela label stitched inside it but if it’s off-the-peg then those snooty London society types are going to smell it, and you, a mile off. Merge with the herd with a custom-job from that world centre of tailoring, Savile Row. Henry Poole & Co. received their first Royal Warrant in 1869, though they’ve thankfully kept up with the times, so you’ll get a sensible cut rather than knickerbockers and a ruff collar.
Diamonds are an apologist’s Best Friend
It’s always good to keep a tiara on hand for those awkward morning moments, and when you’re talking bespoke jewels the conversation begins and end with Asprey. Apologize for your bad behaviour in advance with something special from the jeweller that first received its Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1862. A gift in an Asprey box is like Tiffany to the power of infinity, and beyond.
Rubbing and Clubbing
Your best bet for hanging out with the Royals is probably to haunt some of the clubs that Harry falls out of at 4am. Top nitespots Panagea and Kitts have all been noted as Harry favourites of late. But remember you’ll need deep pockets and plenty of swagger to get past the doormen. And even if the Royals don’t show, there’ll be plenty of ‘top totty’and a smattering of B-list celebs hanging around on the off-chance of copping off with someone minted.
A Spot of Nosh
Discreetly located in a side street in the heart of theatre-land, since it was founded in 1917, actors, agents, politicians, financiers, socialites and, of course, royalty have regularly parked their assets on its seats to enjoy an unpretentious menu of English grub with a twist. The 2008 opening of invitation-only private members joint The Club upstairs, with three-floors of cultured decadence, has only increased its A-list status.
Browsing the Racks
For sure, the Royals are unlikely to pop down the corner shop for a lottery ticket and a newspaper but we all have to shop some time, right? In the days of Diana and Dodi, Harrods used to be the big Windsor shop out. Still Fortnum & Mason is hardly slumming it: with a pedigree stretching back to 1707, this stylish art-deco institution houses 6 floors of some of the finest foods and fancy goods in the world.
Yes, we know that the London Eye doesn’t have a Royal Warrant. But it offers the city’s best view over the immediate dominion of Britain’s rulers. Forget the bits south of the river (like most Londoners try to) and concentrate on the dense cluster of historic buildings from the Houses of Parliament through to Buckingham Palace and the wide avenues of The Mall.
A Dash of Mint
The current crop of Brit royals is a little, how should we put it, fruity. In 2006 it was reported by the British Red Tops that Prince Harry visited the Slough branch of strip club chain Spearmint Rhino, though he apparently turned down the offer of a lap dance. Still, if you’re up to your eyeballs in tassels and you spot Harry or anyone else in the family alongside you, you’d probably do well never to tell anyone. The UK may have abolished the death penalty for treason in 1998 but that doesn’t mean you won’t spend the rest of your life rotting away in the Tower of London, with those London Beefeaters keeping guard over you.
Text Matt Armitage
Images Beefeater, Matt Armitage + Visit Britain