A magnet for tourists and residents alike, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence and principal workplace of the British Monarch; currently Queen Elizabeth II.
The Royal Standard is flown when she is in town!
Located in the City of Westminster, and not the most attractive of the Royal Palaces, but certainly the most well known, Buckingham Palace has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing, a security blanket during times of crisis, the setting for royal events, pageants and state occasions. The East Front facing the Mall, the ‘public face’ of the palace, contains the balcony where on momentous occasions such as Trooping the Colour, Changing the Guard & weddings, the Royal Family can been seen.
Although not always the preferred residence, the palace hurriedly completed upon the accession of Queen Victoria, has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837.
Added to over the years, the palace now has 775 rooms; 19 State rooms (a riot of gilt and colour, form the nucleus of the working Palace), 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms! Apparently the Queen’s smaller, private suite of rooms are in the North wing, and infamously in 1982 where Michael Fagan visited her in the middle of the night! Interior designs include brightly coloured scagliola, pink and blue lapis, Belle Epoque cream and gold, Chinese regency style with furniture and fittings brought from the Royal Bavilion at Brighton and Carlton House.
Buckingham Palace, in the Neoclassicism architectural style, is used for many official events & receptions, banquets, lunches and dinners, concerts, Royal Garden Parties, the 2012 Coronation Festival and more recently a rugby match – more than 50,000 people visit each year! The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace are opened to the public annually in the summer.
Also the venue for one of the major art collections in the world, the magnificent Royal Collection is open to visitors all year round. Every year in November, the largest and most formal of receptions at Buckingham Palace takes place when the Queen entertains members of the foreign diplomatic corps resident in London.
Rooms of note:
The Throne Room, used during Queen Victoria’s reign for Court gatherings and dancing, during Queen Elizabeth’s reign for Jubilees, loyal addresses, formal wedding photos.
The Ballroom, the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War, used variously as a concert hall and is the regular venue for Investitures.
It’s along the East Gallery that the Queen and her State guests process to the Ballroom for the State Banquet normally held on the first day of the visit.
The State Dining Room, one of the principal State Rooms on the West side of the Palace where many distinguished people have dined, including the 24 holders of the Order of Merit, presidents and prime ministers.
The Blue Drawing Room, originally known as the Bow Drawing Room where the first State Ball was held in May 1838 as part of the celebrations leading up to Queen Victoria’s Coronation.
The Music Room where four Royal babies; The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York and Prince William – were all christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The White Drawing Room, overlooking the gardens on the principal floor, originally called the North Drawing Room, is perhaps the grandest of all the State Rooms and also serves as a Royal reception room for The Queen and members of the Royal Family to gather before State and official occasions.
Visitors of note:
Felix Mendelssohn has played there on three occassions.
Johann Strauss II and his orchestra played there; Strauss’s “Alice Polka” was first performed at the palace in 1849 in honour of Princess Alice.
State visit of Emperor Nicholas I Tsar of Russia.
Emperor Napoleon III of France.
Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa.
A number of American Presidents; Clinton, Obama.
While you are there, be sure visit the Royal Mews for a look at the magnificent State Coach; Great Britannia
as well at the other coaches that the Queen uses for her various Royal engagements
Reasons to go:
Watch the Changing the Guard – daily in summer and alternate days in winter.
Visit the 3 most famous of London’s parks: St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park.
Admire the Queen Victoria memorial.
Keep an eye out for VIP visitors…possibly even the Queen!
Location for the final scenes of Trooping the Colour and a balcony view of the Royal Family.
Buckingham Palace features on the 6 Hours in London itinerary with 3 Days in London. Free to download
Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA, UK.
Nearest Tube Station: Green Park and a short walk through the park. Or Victoria Station – tube & National Rail with a bit of a longer walk. St James’s with a short walk across St James’s Park. Farther afield but within walking distance is Leicester Square or Hyde Park Corner.
There are a great number of buses that service the area albeit not along The Mall or Constitution Avenue, but you can alight right outside the palace on one of the Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tours (not affiliated to Transport for London).
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/
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