Lonely Planet Writer

From Princess Grace to Queen Elizabeth: royal tradition of exotic honeymoons over the years

After their marriage last Saturday, newlyweds Prince Harry and his bride Meghan are said to be heading to Namibia for their honeymoon this weekend.

Harry, Duke of Sussex. and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wave from the Ascot Landau Carriage. Image: Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images

From private islands to country estates, we look at some of the other destinations royal couples have escaped to after their big day.

Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly

Rainier III, Prince of Monaco married Princess Grace on 19 April, 1956 in Monaco.

The wedding of a Hollywood actress to European royalty in 1956 generated the same kind of levels of excitement levels in the press as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s recent nuptials. The glamorous couple had two ceremonies, religious and civil, and spent their honeymoon cruising around the Mediterranean for seven weeks on board the Deo Juvante II, a 147-foot yacht gifted to them by Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis as a wedding present.

Grace Kelly’ aboard her former yacht, now called the M/Y Grace. Image: Quasarex Expeditions

Having changed ownership several times and after a huge refurbishment in 2008, the yacht was renamed Grace and can be booked for seven-day cruises around the Galapagos Islands with prices starting from $6600. A slightly more affordable option for those wishing to follow in the footsteps of Princess Grace and Prince Ranier is to book into the Hotel Formentor, Mallorca where the newlyweds spent some of their honeymoon and where rates are from €223.

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

The Duke and Duchess of York waving to the crowds on their wedding day in 1986. Image by Tim Graham/Getty Images

Cruising appears to be one of the royals’ preferred ways to honeymoon. After their coming together in holy matrimony at Westminster Abbey in 1986, the now-divorced couple took a flight to the Azores Islands off Portugal and then went sailing around the Atlantic on the royal yacht Britannia. Sarah and Andrew were following in the footsteps of other British royal family members who also booked the vessel for their first trip away as a married couple including Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong Jones, and Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. The boat was decommissioned in 1994 but you can visit it in Edinburgh, Scotland where it is berthed and experience what life on the royal floating residence was really like.

Phillipe Junot and Princess Caroline of Monaco

Princess Caroline married Philippe Junot on June 28, 1978, in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Image by Michel Dufour/WireImage

When the eldest daughter of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, aged 21, married a man 17 years her senior with something of a reputation as a playboy, the family were rumoured to be less than enamoured of the union. Guests at their wedding in 1978 included stars such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardener and Cary Grant and the couple honeymooned in French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti. It is alleged that Caroline was upset that a photographer had been hired to accompany them, and later Philippe, a banker and property developer sold the pictures. The marriage lasted just two years and the pair divorced in 1980.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer

Prince Charles And Princess Diana on their wedding day in 1981. Image by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

Another set of Britannia honeymooners, the Prince of Wales and his new bride took to the seas to celebrate the occasion of their nuptials. But first, they spent two nights at Broadlands in Hampshire, an estate owned by the Mountbatten family and open to the public for guided tours on weekdays. Next came a cruise around the Mediterranean although letters written by Diana while on board the Britannia reveal that it may not have been as romantic as she’d hoped – she confided to her lady-in-waiting in a missive dated 15 August 1981 that “the honeymoon was a perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep.” The couple separated in 1992 and were formally divorced in 1996. If you’d like to see the pink Bellville Sassoon suit worn by the late Princess as she boarded the train for her honeymoon, it’s one of several outfits on display in an exhibition called ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ at London’s Kensington Palace.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge headed to the Seychelles in 2011. Image by Samir Hussein/WireImage

After their lavish wedding in 2011, which was watched by tens of millions of people around the world, William and Kate took themselves off for some quiet time to the A-listers’ favourite archipelago, the Seychelles. The couple stayed at North Island, a private island where the most common way to arrive is by helicopter. There are just 11 private guest villas here, with the architectural style described as ‘barefoot luxury. Prices per villa start from €6127 per night and include breakfast, lunches, dinners and all alcoholic beverages, yoga classes, scuba diving courses and fishing trips.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth II, as Princess Elizabeth, and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, styled Prince Philip in 1957, on their wedding day. Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s been over 70 years since the Queen and her husband tied the knot and the young couple exchanged vows in a very different world to those her grandchildren inhabit. Queen Elizabeth’s dress was paid for in 1947 with rationing coupons and their choice of Scotland as a honeymoon destination was arguably linked to the Queen not wishing to appear profligate in post-war Britain by honeymooning abroad. After first visiting Broadlands in Hampshire, they then decamped to Birkhall in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the location of the Queen’s childhood summer holidays. Birkhall – where Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall also honeymooned, as did Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones – is private but it sits on the Balmoral estate, which is the British royal family’s Scottish holiday home. The grounds, gardens, exhibitions and café at Balmoral Castle are open to the public and you can also play golf here or book into one of the five holiday cottages on the estate, with prices from £520 per night.