Explore the magnificent royal residence, home to Queen Elizabeth II.
Buckingham Palace is the centrepiece of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy, serving since 1837 as the official London residence of the British Royal Family. Originally built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705, the then smaller Buckingham House has been expanded over the centuries, and this magnificent structure is now among the most visited sites in the world.
Buckingham Palace is working building, with a large staff supporting The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in their official duties. This is the venue for many state banquets, foreign dignitary receptions, and Royal ceremonies.
Imagine stepping into Buckingham Palace via the Grand Hall, sumptuously decorated with gilt details and marble columns. Two broad marble staircases sweep up to the State Apartments, which include the magnificent Green Drawing Room, accessed via mirrored doors. The Throne Room, decorated in regal scarlet, still holds the two thrones used by Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during the coronation in 1953. This room leads to the East Front Balcony, where millions witnessed the kiss between the newly-wed Prince William and Catherine Middleton following their marriage ceremony in April 2011.
Of the 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace, 19 state rooms are open to the public in August and September, when Queen Elizabeth II stays in her Scottish residence, Balmoral Castle. Look out for the flag flying above the palace: if the Queen is in residence you will see the Royal Standard, the Queen’s official flag; if she is not in residence, the Union Flag will be hoisted.
Whilst the palace is neither an art gallery nor a museum, you will have the opportunity to view many works from the palace’s private art collection, including furniture crafted for Kings and Queens and masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt. It’s advisable to book your visit in advance on the official Buckingham Palace website, and there is an admission fee, which includes an audio tour.
Don’t miss the famous Changing the Guard ceremony. This takes place from 11:15 am to 12:00 pm on scheduled days, apart from during winter months, accompanied by the Guards Band. This event is the epitome of traditional pageantry.
Buckingham Palace is located in Westminster, and is easily accessible by bus. The nearest Underground station is St James’s Park.