Queen to celebrate birthday at riverside palace

Prince Charles is organising a family dinner for The Queen at Kew Palace to mark her 80th birthday.

The celebration is on her actual anniversary Friday 21 April and afterwards Her Majesty and Prince Philip are expected to travel upstream to Windsor for the weekend.

The small Royal residence has been closed for a decade to allow for a careful restoration costing £6.6m. The interior of the riverside house is now looking much as it did when George III and Queen Charlotte lived there in the 18th century.

Items still retained include a glass bottle which contained rose-coloured mineral water from Spa in Belgium and enjoyed by an ailing George III.

The restored back garden, seen from the now raised Thames Path, was subject to flooding during King George’s time.

Queen Victoria’s parents were married in Kew Palace and in 1898 she opened it to visitors. The public will again be able to visit from Thursday 27 April; admission £5 (conc £4) in addition to the Kew Gardens admission charge of £11.75 (conc £8.75).


Thames Path remains open during Henley Festival

The Henley Festival has backed down from its plan to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to close part of the Thames Path for seven days in July this year.

The Festival has capitulated in the face of significant opposition from the Henley-based national pressure-group, the Open Spaces Society and other objectors.

Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: “The festival wanted to close part of this popular path, for most of the daylight hours and into the night, from Monday 3 July to Sunday 9 July—seven days, at great inconvenience to the public.

“Now it has recognised the error of its ways and has decided instead to close the path for the same period as last year, which is much more limited and covers only five days, mostly in the evenings and after dark.

“It just goes to show that the dramatic increase in closure hours was unnecessary and that the festival can proceed perfectly well with the path remaining open.

“Of course, if the Festival’s organisers had bothered to consult our Society and local people before going ahead with those plans, it would have saved the Festival considerable embarrassment over this volte-face.”

The towpath always remains open during the more prestigious week long Henley Royal Regatta held at the end of June and now in its 167th year.

Kate concludes: “We are delighted that the Festival’s organisers have backed down, and that the festival will not be held at the expense of the walking public.”