It's been a year since the Olympics made London (and other UK cities that hosted games) the focal point of the world…and this week, the country got another jolt of attention with the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, the son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and the third in line to the British throne. (And if you think that's a big responsibility for a four-day-old baby, just remember that Mary, Queen of Scots, was all of six days old when she came to the throne!)
Naturally, tourism boards throughout the United Kingdom are celebrating the new heir. "The new addition to the Royal Family allows us to celebrate our rich heritage and highlight what families can enjoy on a visit to England," VisitEngland said in a statement, noting that the birth will "heighten the profile of England’s royal attractions, from Kensington Palace, where the Duke and Duchess will live, to Windsor Castle and the Sandringham Estate. England’s distinctive royal places are a very important and unique part of our heritage and culture. In 2012 alone, 4.7 million holidaymakers visited a historic house, stately home or palace during their time in England and, indeed, I opened my own former home to the public for 20 years."
We reached out to Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, and Chairman of VisitEngland to get her insights on how the country is taking advantage of the increase in royal interest and family travel. "Lots of different places in the private sector are doing lots of displays and promotions," she told Travel Agent. "But I think, fundamentally, what this does is to just add more glamor and excitement to 2013 and the next two or three years…2012 was not the final hurrah. Things will go on happening in this country that are fun, contemporary, and will add a lot to the attraction of coming here." England may be steeped in tradition, she added, but as the younger generation of the Royal Family is proving, it can also be young and contemporary. "The Cambridges bring some gloss to it, because they’re both very grounded. They’ll bring their baby up in a contemporary fashion."
Interested visitors can tour Kensington Palace, where the family is currently living. While they won't be able to see the private apartments or the private gardens, but the public gardens have been renovated by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, who also oversaw the private side. "You can imagine what the private gardens look like," the Viscountess said.
Ultimately, she added, the new baby may well help the country show off its family friendly side. "We don’t always have great weather," she said, "but we have lots of things for families do. We will use this opportunity to promote family travel, and highlight places that are good for young children. We have fabulous beaches, amazing restaurants, and other places that are not dependent on sunshine! We will highlight these things because people are interested."
Many of England’s hotels and attractions offering themed breaks, packages and experiences. For example, the Hilton London Kensington has created a 'Tot-ter Around Kensington' package where guests can enjoy a two-night shopping break, ideal for mother-daughter bonding and mums-to-be. Meanwhile, one of the luxury suites at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane has been transformed into a five-star nursery, designed with the royal baby in mind. In addition, the Museum of London has a new exhibit, "A Royal Arrival," that delves deep into the Museum’s collection to showcase baby clothes and memorabilia worn by former royal infants.