You can’t miss Buckingham Palace when in London and here’s why…
Buckingham Palace – the place that showcases British opulence at its finest. It is one of the world’s few remaining working royal palaces. It’s been open to the public for more than 20 years now. Originally owned by the Duke of Buckingham, it was bought by King George III for his wife Queen Charlotte in 1761. It was eventually transformed into a palace and Queen Victoria became the first sovereign to live there in July of 1837. There are 775 rooms, including 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms, 52 principal bedrooms, and 19 staterooms. ‘Magnificently massive’ does not even begin to describe it.
Steeped in history, the Palace is now the residence of Queen Elizabeth II since her accession. Although the majority of Buckingham Palace remains out of bounds, organised tours, which commence from late July to late September, when the Queen is not in residence, allows visitors’ access to all the State Rooms, the Palace Gardens, and the Royal Mews. From the grand staircase to the artwork, sculptures and state coaches, Buckingham Palace is packed with remarkable sights.
How to get there
Getting to Buckingham Palace is simple. A landmark in itself, you could take the tube to Victoria and Green Park. You can also take the buses that halt nearby. Buckingham Palace isn’t open all year round, so if you’re planning to visit check it’s open for the public during your time of visit.
20 July – 31 August : 09:30 – 19:30, Last admission: 17:15
1 September – 29 September: 09:30 – 18:00, Last admission: 16:15
Once you’ve set foot in the royal residence, there are a few things you simply cannot afford to miss.
• The changing of the guard
The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace has been a tradition since 1660. This colorful spectacle starts at 11:30 am (April-July) and lasts for about 40 minutes. There is an app that you can download from the palace website for an in-depth history of the ceremony. Be sure to start earlier get there on time.
• The grand staircase
This is the highlight of the tour. The magnificent bronze staircase features an intricate pattern of acanthus, oak and laurel leaves. It represents some of the world’s finest bronze casting work and the stairs are lit by a glass dome in the ceiling.
• Royal Mews
You can see an array of royal coaches and carriages, some of them which are still used by monarchs on state occasions. Be sure to see the Gold State Coach that is used for all the coronations. It is so heavy that it requires 8 horses to pull it. The horses, including the famous Windsor Greys, are stabled in the Mews. There are also number Rolls Royce limos, Bentleys and Jaguars on display in the royal mews. As we said, this is British Royalty at its finest.
• The staterooms
There are 19 staterooms in Buckingham Palace and all of them are open for the tour. The proceeds from the first tour were spent on the restoration of Windsor Castle, which had gone through some damage by a fire in the previous year. The State Rooms are now part of a mind-blowing tour that includes excellent pieces from the Royal Collection such as paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, sculptures by Canova, rare porcelain and fine period furniture and more. The tour also includes a look inside the Throne Room, the Music Room, the Picture Gallery, and the spectacular White Drawing Room.
• Clarence House
The official residence of the Prince of Wales is just behind Buckingham Palace. The rooms used by the prince and the family are in display in Clarence house. The Lancaster Room, The Morning Room, The Library, The Dining Room, and The Garden Room are some. Much of the Queen’s art collection is also stored here.
• The Victoria Monument
This humongous sculpture of Queen Victoria is placed right opposite the palace and offers one of London’s most popular photo settings. It portrays the former queen surrounded by symbolic figures like victory, endurance, courage, truth, justice, science, art, and agriculture.
Some of the other highlights you will get to see on the tour of Buckingham Palace are:
Audio tour with Prince Charles
The Throne Room
The Special exhibition
Garden Cafe and Garden Shop
The Secret Door
The Music Room
The Queen’s Gallery
Buckingham Palace is so spectacular that a tour to London isn’t complete without a full tour of the palace. It has so many historical highlights that display the honour of the empire and state. Let’s just say you might learn more about England inside the palace than you will outside!