Top 8 Things I Discovered in London

A research trip to London! One of the most exciting things I did while writing my YA fantasy novel, THE INCREDIBLE CHARLOTTE SYCAMORE AND THE SECRET TRAPS, was take a behind-the-scenes tour of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Top 8 things I discovered:

1. There are secret hallways in Buckingham Palace that are used only by Queen Elizabeth. Our group was shown how one of the fireplaces swings open from floor to ceiling so that the Queen doesn’t travel the corridors like everyone else, to maintain her privacy and security.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace Gate

2. It’s considered rude to turn your back on royalty. During Queen Victoria’s time, all staff had to walk backward out of a room when Her Majesty was in it. This rippled through our culture. Have you ever had someone apologize when their back was turned to you?

3. In North America, we call rivers by their name, then add “river” behind it. Such as Mississippi River, Fraser River, etc. In England they do it the other way around. People call it the River Thames. (Eek! Last minute edit change in my manuscript caught just before printing!)

4. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest castle in the world. It has been the royal residence of British Kings and Queens for almost 1,000 years. It’s magnificent.

5. When Queen Elizabeth’s staff are preparing for a state dinner, they still use rulers to measure and ensure that every single plate, goblet, and piece of cutlery is in the same position as the next place setting.

6. It’s a matter of debate how many Kings and Queens over time used food tasters to test the food before it touched royal lips, in case of poison. Historians do generally agree that Mary, Queen of Scots, had a food taster because several attempts were made on her life due to the fact that she was Catholic and controversial.

7. In Windsor Castle, our group had a private tour of the kitchens. They have two prep kitchens – one is used to prepare meats, the other to prepare vegetables. This is to avoid contamination of fresh produce with raw meats. Heads of states can’t afford to get sick!

8. Kings and Queens have always had their own private physician who travels with them, which is the basis of my story, THE INCREDIBLE CHARLOTTE SYCAMORE AND THE SECRET TRAPS. Charlotte is 16 years old, lives in Buckingham Palace in a fantasy Victorian London, and is hiding a secret identity. When two royal horses are stolen, a reward is placed on Charlotte’s head. She enlists her trusted friends, and daring ally, Peter, to help uncover the dangerous truth.