For those wishing to explore England's resplendent royal residences, visiting Windsor Castle is well worth the short trip from central London. Starting this weekend, the palace will also serve as the venue for a fascinating new exhibition.
Royal Paintbox: Royal Artists Past and Present is a showcase of the artistic projects undertaken by British monarchs and their immediate families – endeavours conducted out of the public eye for the private pleasure of kings, queens and their kin.
Those fascinated by the private lives of the royal family should find this unique exhibition truly unmissable, revealing hitherto unseen sides to figures like Queen Victoria. One of the most powerful heads of state in history, the Queen was an enthusiastic dauber – paintings like View from the Road to Invercauld and Children at Osborne show her to have been a tasteful and conservative watercolourist.
On the other end of the spectrum, visitors will be able to see precise and detailed architectural drawings made for pleasure by George III and even a few examples of royal hands' proficiency for sculpture.
Other artists whose work is on display include Prince Albert, Queen Alexandra, the Duke of Edinburgh and Elizabeth II – encapsulating 350 years of creative expression in Europe's finest palaces.
Prince Charles is one of the present-day figures whose paintings are included in Royal Paintbox. He has been producing watercolours for the entirety of his adult life, often working in the open air at venues like the Queen's Balmoral estate.
"He takes great pleasure in the challenges of observing, and then recording, involved in this particularly British art form," curators say.
The exhibition opens on Saturday (June 22nd) and runs until January 2014. Admission is included within the price of Windsor Castle admission, which is £17.75 for adults and £10.60 for under-17s.
Windsor Castle is easy to reach – several coach companies even operate excursions directly from central London hotels.