From princes to paupers, London has its fair share of romantic stories and visitors can get a taste of all of them.
Queen Victoria & Prince Albert—Victoria and Albert Museum
Arguably the biggest London love story of them all, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s epic bond is in evidence on a grand scale in the city. The V&A was just one of the museums on South Kensington’s Exhibition Road that was built by Albert (the area’s 19th-century nickname was ‘Albertopolis’). The Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and more were funded using the huge profits generated by his Great Exhibition of 1851.
The money intended for building the Royal Albert Hall was diverted by Victoria following Albert’s death in 1861, so that she could use it to build the Albert Memorial just across the road. Following Albert’s death, Victoria famously wore nothing but black for the rest of her life.
Gilbert & George—Spitalfields Market
Originally from Plymouth in Devon, George Passmore met his Italian husband Gilbert Prousch in 1967, when the pair studied sculpture at Saint Martin’s School of Art (now part of Central Saint Martins). They have been inseparable ever since, as an artistic partnership that believes in "art for all." Together, Gilbert & George won the Turner Prize in 1986, counted David Bowie as a customer, and also enjoyed Tate Modern’s largest-ever artist retrospective exhibition in 2007.
The couple married in 2008 and have lived in a restored 18th-century house on Fournier Street in Spitalfields since 1968. Embark on a shopping trip to Spitalfields Market, or eat in a local cafe, and you might just spot them.
Paul & Linda McCartney—The Old Marylebone Town Hall
The Beatle and the US photographer met at Soho’s Bag O’Nails club – near Carnaby Street, the epicentre of London’s Swinging Sixties scene – in 1967. The club is still open, to members only, but for Beatles fans it’s worth visiting to see the commemorative plaque in the doorway. In 1969, Paul and Linda were married at The Old Marylebone Town Hall, which has just been refurbished.
The grand hall has also witnessed the weddings of Ringo Starr and Liam Gallagher. Breast cancer took Linda’s life in 1998, and in 2011 Paul married Nancy Shevell. Book ahead for a free tour of the hall.
Will & Kate—Westminster Abbey
There was a time during the credit crunch when it was rumoured that Prince William and Kate Middleton would have a low-key wedding. In April 2011, however, the second in line to the British throne married a Berkshire ‘commoner’ at Westminster Abbey in front of 1,900 guests, fulfilling the fairytale wedding dreams of royalists all over the world. Will and Kate met at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2001, but the capital is very much their home now – the couple live in Kensington Palace.
John Keats & Fanny Brawne—Keats House
It seems only right that one of English literature’s greatest Romantic poets had an equally romantic (and tragic) love story. John and his two brothers moved from the City of London to Hampstead in 1817, when John was 22 years old. He moved into the smaller half of a house called Wentworth Place in 1818, and soon after the Brawne family moved into the larger half. John quickly fell in love with their eldest daughter, Fanny, and they were engaged in 1819. When John became ill with tuberculosis, he wrote letters to Fanny—despite the fact that she lived just next door. John died two years later and, today, you can tour this beautiful Georgian villa where he met the love of his life.
Harry & Meghan—Nottingham Cottage
Nestled in the leafy grounds of Kensington Palace, Harry and Meghan’s little love nest seems quaint and simple but, this being the royal family, the cottage was in fact designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of Britain’s most renowned architects. We wouldn’t expect anything less.
Ruth & Richard Rogers—The River Café
One of London’s most iconic restaurants has a love story at its heart, which began almost half a century ago. Design student Ruth Elias met architect Richard Rogers in 1969, and they were married four years later. In 1987, Ruth partnered up with her friend, the late Rose Gray, to open The River Café in Hammersmith—an Italian restaurant designed by Richard. It was founded primarily to feed the staff at Richard’s nearby architectural practice. For decades, he and Ruth would walk back and forth meet every day. The restaurant has since become a London institution, with a garden area offering glorious views of the River Thames in summer.