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There are only a few Royal palaces which still act as residences, and Buckingham Palace is certainly one of the most famous. The palace is one of London’s most impressive historic sights, and instantly recognisable to Londoners and visitors alike as the epitome of all things British.
As well as being the official London residence and family home of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, the palace also acts as her office as she is a working monarch. It also functions as a major cultural centre, and a place regularly used for ceremonial occasions such as state banquets and meetings with foreign dignitaries.
In addition to being historically significant, the palace has 775 rooms, and is also remarkable to look at. If you want to get closer to the history and heritage of the palace, then you’re in luck! Each year, the doors of the 19 ornate State Rooms open to the public for just a short few months.
For visitors to the city staying in London this summer, here’s a few of the key sights to look out for as you tour Buckingham Palace…
The Grand Staircase
The opulent staircase which leads you to the state rooms was originally designed to be lavish enough to impress some highly distinguished guests, and its impact certainly holds up well into the 21st century. With golden adornments and red accents, it was created by John Nash at the behest of King George IV, and constructed between 1825-1830. With a real attention to detail and intricacy which is best viewed close up, the staircase gives a glimpse at the luxury and splendour which is to follow – as a preview of the wonders which are to be seen once you head to other areas of the palace.
White Drawing Room
Decorated in white and gold, this room forms a major hub of activity during Royal events, and includes a variety of fine French and English furniture which reflect the design interests of George IV. . It also has a hidden entrance disguised as a mirror and cabinet through which Her Majesty enters to receive guests!
The Throne Room
This room proves particularly popular with visitors, and its easy to see why. The Throne Room contains not only thrones that were designed for Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, but additional pieces which were created for other monarchs such as Queen Victoria.
You may recognise the room from its appearance in significant Royal memorabilia, as well as from commemorative photographs of key royal events such as the royal wedding photos of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (2011).
The thrones in this room have all been used for significant occasions, and you’ll have the chance to find out more on one of the Buckingham Palace tours.
Large in scale and with impressive details everywhere you look, the palace ballroom was completed during Queen Victoria’s reign in 1855. In the past it was used to host regular music recitals, and still contains an organ, but now it is used mainly for official events such as State Banquets for Heads of State. The room includes two thrones which date from 1902, created for Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. There are intriguing states in the ballroom, including work by William Theed, and a triumphal arch.
The Art Collection
Buckingham Palace houses one of the most impressive art collections anywhere, with big names and notable paintings regularly on display as part of the Royal Collection. The artwork operated on a rotation basis, so you never know what you might find – but masterpieces by the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Claude and Rubens are all situated within the palace picture gallery. In addition, the State Rooms provide a variety of incredible portraits of the royal family both past and present, including George III and Queen Victoria, as well as the contemporary royals.
If you really want to see the palace in full, then a trip to the gardens is an essential component of your trip! They measure 39 acres and include more than 200 trees, a lake and 350 varieties of flower. This is the space where the Queen hosts her annual garden party, and by heading for the gardens you can see the rose garden, summer house and tennis courts before heading to The Grill at The Montcalm for a celebratory meal. The garden tour is separate to the main state rooms tour, but worth the added time while you’re at Buckingham Palace.
Prince Charles Audio Tour
A tour of Buckingham Palace while staying at The Montcalm luxury hotels includes a free audio guide to help you understand more about the palace, with an introduction from none other than the Prince of Wales himself. The audio guide talks about each of the 19 state rooms and also provides information about special exhibitions. With options to listen to the audio tour in a variety of different languages and with accessibility versions available. this is a fantastic way to acquaint yourself with the major highlights of the palace during your visit.
Changing of The Guard
The famous Changing of the Guard event takes place at 11am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday outside Buckingham Palace. In essence, the Changing of the Guard is a military process where one regiment replaces another on guard duty at the palace, and in appropriately Royal style, it is given an added ceremonial edge, complete with music as the changeover occurs.
Where is Buckingham Palace?
The palace is located in the centre of London, close to great public transport links and within easy reach of The Montcalm Royal London House. The nearest Tube stations are Hyde Park Corner, Green Park and Victoria, and there are also a number of bus stations close to the palace, as well as Victoria Coach Station just 10 minutes walk away from Buckingham Palace.
When can I visit?
Buckingham Palace State Rooms will be open from 22nd July 2019 – 29th September 2019, offering plenty of time to explore them for yourself while staying in the city. The opening times vary, so be sure to check ahead of your visit to avoid missing out.