Headed to London Christmas? Treat yourself and your loved ones like royalty with Lonely Planet's guide to the Queen of England's favourite shops.
We’ve seen the Queen browsing in Waitrose and trying out the self-service checkouts in Sainsbury’s on official engagements, but we’re unlikely to ever spot her doing the shopping herself. Yet like all of us, the 93-year-old has certain go-to stores for everything from the daily necessities like coffee beans and stationery, to little luxuries such as perfume and truffles. And when she’s really impressed, she’ll give a retailer her seal of approval with a royal warrant, a mark of recognition for those who have supplied goods to the monarch for at least five years. Below, we highlight some of her favourite spots in London — and the best news is they’re all within 10-20 mins walking distance of one another, so you could make a day of it and shop like a royal this Christmas.
House of Fraser
The popular department store supplies household goods to the Queen, and in her new book The Other Side of the Coin, the Queen’s dresser Angela Kelly reveals it was her first stop when seeking luggage for a royal tour. For years, the Queen travelled with three large, heavy leather wardrobes, but as they became increasingly impractical, Kelly turned to House of Fraser for something lighter and waterproof. She ended up buying suitcases from in-house brand Linea, which guarantee the Queen’s outfits arrive without getting creased, drenched or damaged — a must for those travelling in royal style. While you’re there, head to the Fulton concession stand and pick up one of the Birdcage umbrellas for £21 — the Queen has over 100 of these clear domed brollies, with trims and handles in every colour to coordinate with each of her outfits.
Need some java? This Mayfair coffee and tea merchants has held a royal warrant for 40 years, and you can stop in to rest your feet with a freshly-made brew. Located on the peaceful Duke Street just moments from Oxford Circus, HR Higgins has been making some of the finest blends in London for three generations, with teas and coffees from all over the world. Whether you grab an espresso to go or join a coffee-tasting masterclass, there’s something for everyone. And those beautiful tea caddies wouldn’t go amiss on Christmas morning either…
When she’s not scanning the newspapers or reading through her correspondence, the Queen likes to dip into books from this Piccadilly bookshop, believed to be the oldest in the UK. You can see the royal warrant crest over the door and inside above the counter, and there’s a portrait of the Queen on the wall, too. A wooden staircase connects five stories of books, while the floorboards creak with 200 years of history. Now owned by Waterstones, the shop is still a warm, inviting haven for bookworms — with a heavy dose of nostalgia, courtesy of some love-worn Chesterfields and the old-world fleur-de-lis carpet.
The UK’s oldest perfumer received its first royal warrant in 1820, having been appointed “smooth pointed comb-maker” to King George IV. Floris, which is still family-owned and run, has supplied perfume to the Queen for nearly 50 years. We may never know what she smells like — it’s rumoured she favours the brand’s White Rose – but the Jermyn Street shop has an enormous selection of scents to choose from. And it’s just as much of a hit with British gentlemen, including one notable fictional hero: in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, 007 famously wore Floris No 89.
Paxton & Whitfield
Just up the street is the artisan cheesemongers Paxton & Whitfield, which received a royal warrant from Queen Victoria in 1850. The shop is also said to have supplied Aldwych goat’s cheese for the canapés served at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding in 2011. With the festive season upon us, this is a particularly good spot for snapping up cheeseboard selections, hampers and gift sets, with delicious options starting from £15.
The Queen’s little black handbags have become her style signature, and she is said to own more than 200 styles from Launer, of which she has been a devotee for four decades. The London brand specialises in understated, structured leather bags with the distinctive twisted rope logo used as a front clasp, and the Queen’s favourites are the classic Royale (£2050) and best-selling Traviata (£1840), often with a patent finish and always with long handles so the bag doesn’t get caught in her clothes when she’s shaking well-wishers’ hands. Launer bags are stocked in a number of London department stores, including Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, both royal warrant-holders themselves.
Smythson of Bond Street
The upmarket stationers, with a flagship on New Bond Street, was established in 1887, and is as stylish as ever today — we’ve seen Kate Middleton with one of the brand’s monogrammed folders at a garden event this summer, while Meghan Markle gifted contributors to her guest-edited issue of Vogue personalised Smythson leather notebooks. The Queen is a fan of the bespoke writing paper, envelopes, diaries and correspondence cards, and the refined style and luxurious quality has earned Smythson a reputation as the epitome of class.
Charbonnel et Walker
The Queen keeps trim with a very disciplined diet, but she indulges every now and then with the occasional truffle from London confectioner Charbonnel et Walker. Founded in 1875, the shop in London’s elegant Royal Arcade on Old Bond Street has a longstanding royal connection, and is one of the Queen’s favourite chocolatiers. While they haven’t revealed the Queen’s preferred flavour, Charbonnel et Walker’s head chocolatier revealed she has “rather floral tastes”, and the rose and violet creams are predicted to be her pick. Princess Diana was a fan, too — who can resist the gorgeous handmade boxes, not to mention the enormously tempting chocolates inside?
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