Buckingham Palace, history and interesting facts

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the residence of the British monarchs in London. Today Elizabeth II lives and works there. Life goes on in the palace: receptions and events of national importance take place there. The rest of the royal family is guarded by guardsmen – their bright red outfits are visible from afar.

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Video: Buckingham Palace


Normally, a flag flies over Buckingham Palace – signifying that the queen is in the building. But at the end of summer, Elizabeth II leaves her home and Buckingham Palace opens its doors to tourists. They can get a glimpse of the luxury of the royal court with their own eyes. Gilded ceilings and silk-covered walls, fine furniture, antique vases and elegant candelabra – such is the splendor of the halls.

Technically, Buckingham Palace is the property of the royal family. But at the same time it is considered a tourist attraction and serves as an art gallery. It is a calling card of Great Britain.

Victoria Monument in the Queen’s gardens in front of Buckingham Palace View of Buckingham Palace from St. James Park

Miniature “town” in London

Buckingham Palace is located in Westminster, near Pall Mall. In the vast square next to it is a monument to Queen Victoria, made of white marble and gilt. The residence itself is sandwiched between high-rises and Art Nouveau buildings. It is a real town, because behind the gates there is a swimming pool, post office, police department, hospital and its own cinema. Together with the garden the area of the complex reaches 20 hectares. Visitors are strictly divided into two categories: some enter through the main entrance and the rest through the side service entrance. The royal family, their entourage, courtiers and ladies in waiting, representatives of the government and dignitaries have the right to pass through the front doors.

Buckingham Palace is huge, as it should be – there are about 700 rooms inside. The predominant colors are red and gold. Among them are fifty royal bedrooms, about 200 rooms for guests and staff, about a hundred offices and the Queen’s study. Prince Philip, the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex also work in the building.

The Victoria Monument in detail.

The past of the elegant residence

The history of the palace began in the 18th century. The architectural masterpiece Buckingham House was erected by order of the Duke of Buckingham. New house owner was dissatisfied with it – he smelled mold everywhere, although others did not notice it. Soon the duke died, and his widowed wife could not live within the walls of the building – every object was a reminder of her husband. She left, and soon died of grief. The Duke’s heir put Buckingham Palace up for sale.

George III took an interest in the handsome building. He was keen to find a new private residence – the old one had failed to suit him in size and finish. In 1762, Buckingham House passed into the hands of the monarch, who embarked on a major restoration. At the same time, a large library was built and the rooms were decorated with paintings by Italian artists.

The residence changed its name, becoming known as the Queen’s House. Most of the time, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitzky, the monarch’s wife, was the hostess here, while George III visited occasionally. Frequent guests at Buckingham Palace were painters, who painted portraits of all the royalty of England. Later, famous architects created three similar buildings and combined them into a general ensemble. In the center is a spacious courtyard.

Jacques Coeur's Mansion in Bourges, France

At the beginning of XIX century Buckingham Palace was officially declared a residence of British monarchs. Queen Victoria started to rule and paid much attention to the masterpiece. The reconstruction affected the interior rooms, an additional annex was created, the location of the main entrance was changed. Gardens, waterfalls and lakes were laid out.

Ballroom of the palace in 1856.

The people did not like such a change. The restoration cost 700,000 pounds sterling – a large sum by the standards of the XIX century. In difficult times for the country, it seemed altogether an unaffordable luxury. But changes continued. In the 60s the ballroom was completed, and for the first time it was used for a reception in honor of the end of the Crimean War.

At first the furnishings of the house were in Georgian style. During the reign of Edward VII the decoration was changed into French modernist style, and some rooms were decorated in Chinese theme. Today Buckingham Palace continues to serve the royal family, hosting events and receptions of national importance.

Buckingham Palace in 1710 Buckingham Palace in 1837

Visit the palace

Today the royal residence is visited by a mass of tourists – about 30,000 in the summer months. The powerful entrance gate and the serene appearance of the gray brick building immediately catch the eyes of visitors. The original appearance of the structure has been preserved only on the western side facing the garden. But the east façade of Buckingham Palace is most famous. The lower floor is decorated with bas-reliefs of Doric order and the upper floor with Corinthian order. The front side of the building is complemented by allegorical figures. The triangular part of the facade of the palace looks elegantly due to the coat of arms. Above it are the sculptures of Neptune, Sailor and Merchant. The northern part of the building is occupied by private rooms. The main block, which faces St. James’s Palace from the outside, contains the Parade Rooms.

Before you even enter Buckingham Palace, you can get a vivid experience by watching the changing of the guard. The solemn ceremony takes place daily from April until the end of summer, and every other day during the rest of the period. The spectacle gathers a crowd of tourists. The stage is the square in front of the balcony.

Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace The royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

On a large table outside the palace is the changing of the guard schedule. If you want to photograph the spectacle unobstructed, you need to take care of a spot near the fence of Buckingham Palace beforehand. At 11.30 a.m. the ‘performance’ begins as the Guards of the Court Guard show their equanimity and impeccable training.

Until 1993, it was impossible for ordinary tourists to enter the building. Now, during the Queen’s departure (in August and September) Buckingham Palace is accessible to the public. The residence begins with a vestibule decorated with columns of marble. At the entrance is a sculptural gallery, combining busts and statues of members of the dynasty of monarchs and statesmen. The interior furnishings resemble a museum. The rooms are equipped with antique furniture, which has survived more than one generation. Among the items is porcelain that belonged to Napoleon.

The “heart” of the building: the state rooms

The pride of Buckingham Palace is the Parade Halls, the Royal Gallery, and the stables. The elegance of the rooms has remained almost unchanged since Queen Victoria’s time. The “heart” of the palace are the Parade Rooms. Exquisite furniture, unique items of Sevres porcelain, and elegant sculptures – that’s what you can see there. Masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt and Canaletto adorn the rooms. The state rooms are accessible to visitors only two months of the year – in August and September. The rest of the year Elisabeth II and the royal family hold official events and receptions here.

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Parade Hall Royal Stables

Buckingham Palace has a total of 19 State Rooms: the White and Green Drawing Rooms, the Guard Room, the Throne Room, the State Dining Room and several further rooms. They are arranged in a series of enfilades – the rooms seem to be strung on a thread. Among these, the Green Drawing Room is considered central. A chest of drawers made of black wood and decorated with precious stones looks very important. The room adds to the solidity of antique vases made by the hands of famous masters. The walls of the Green Drawing room are covered with silk and the ceiling is decorated with gilt. The Green Drawing Room once served as a salon of Queen Charlotte. Today, invited guests await their reception here.

The Green Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace The royal family in the throne room. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding

Want a glimpse of the room where formal photo shoots are held at Buckingham Palace? Check out the Throne Room. This room was once used for balls with royal participation. In the Throne Room are grand armchairs with the initials of the royal family. From here you can get to the art gallery.

Treasures of the British Monarchs

From the State Throne Room, guests make their way to the Picture Gallery. This part of the palace appeared in the 1970s at the initiative of the Duke of Edinburgh. Previously, there were the ruins of a private chapel that was destroyed during World War II. The Gallery is a major addition to Buckingham Palace over the last 150 years.

Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery

The Picture Gallery is the largest room of the palace: 50 meters long and 8 meters wide. Its size is comparable to two tennis courts. Slowly walking around the room, you can consider the paintings of Rubens, Rembrandt, van Dyck.

The Royal Gallery keeps a large collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings and Fabergé eggs. The exhibition is regularly updated – visitors are alternately presented with exhibitions based on the collection of British monarchs. There are bas-reliefs on mantels made of marble. You can recognize the features of famous artists in the sculptures.

Majestic Dining Room

The formal dining room at Buckingham Palace looks impressive: an extravagant red color, a huge mahogany table, and a picture of George IV above the fireplace. Portraits of monarchs adorn the walls. The table is so long that it can seat 600 people.

Buckingham Palace Dining Room White Drawing Room

The white living room is decorated in delicate gold tones. The chic white chandelier, rich moldings, elegant sofas and armchairs – this is how it appears to the visitors. The white and gold background is everywhere – in architectural details and furniture. A large collection of antique items is not the only advantage of the living room. There is also a secret door, which leads to the Throne Room.

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Carriage to the Queen!

The Carriage Yard is also open to the public. Inside “live” cars and carriages used for ceremonial and daily rides. In a separate room is the huge Golden Carriage. It is used for coronations and special occasions. The transparent royal carriage for royal brides is also an eye-catcher.

The King’s coach at Buckingham Palace

In the stables are Thoroughbred horses. On the wall beside each one is inscribed with a name the queen herself thought up. Only carriage horses are kept in the stables. The stables are available to guests from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (they let in until 3:15 p.m.). Since 2011, the Carriage Yard can be visited year-round. However, it remains open. You can see the stables on your own or join a group – the tour is conducted in English. At the first visit, the ticket should be stamped – it is valid for a year for repeat tours. If the tour is scheduled for Friday, it is advisable to clarify the opening hours of the museum. It may not be open due to official events.

Walking through the halls of Buckingham Palace requires much more time because of the square. Tourists are advised to check out the Royal Gallery and the Carriage House first, before taking a tour of the State Chambers.

Tea Party at the Royal Palace

Smoothly and unexpectedly from a spacious room with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, visitors enter a lush garden. It resembles Eden: a lake with islands, waterfalls, flowering trees, magnificent lawns and flowerbeds, pink flamingos. The territory is vast – 17 hectares. These are the largest private gardens in London. The solitude is broken only by the rumble of helicopters, which constantly fly around the residence.

Three times a year there is a solemn tea party with the Queen. The event is attended by around 10,000 guests. There are no casual visitors at the informal gathering – everyone deserves to attend a noble reception. Ordinary people feel free – for their sake, Elizabeth II has canceled the dress code. Only black and open shoulders were forbidden. Guests are treated to tea, miniature red caviar sandwiches, chocolate cakes and biscuits.

Tourists can relax in the summer café, which is spread right outside Buckingham Palace. Sitting at a table, you can have a cup of tea or eat ice cream. Guests are allowed to stroll through the southern part of the garden, which overlooks the west side of the building and the lake.

Buckingham Palace Garden

Choice of Souvenirs

Tours are not without souvenirs – a local store offers them. Among the assortment are items from the “royal collection.” They are the same as the usual household items at Buckingham Palace: towels, kitchen utensils, various trifles. You can buy candy, cookies, jewelry, pens and trinkets, and a napkin with the Queen’s monogram.

The way to Buckingham Palace

Get on the Tube and get off at Picadilli Circle, Victoria or St James’s Park stations. Continue through Green Park straight to Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace’s coat of arms on the gates

Follow the signs so you don’t get lost. Tourists can visit the Queen’s House in August and September (from 9:45 to 18:00). But entry is allowed until 3:45 p.m. Every 15 minutes there are guided tours for guests, which last about two hours. It is forbidden to take pictures inside. You have to pay for the pleasure of seeing the royal landmark. The cost is symbolic – £10.25 for guests under 17, £16 for students, £18 for adults. The price has not changed since 1993, when they opened the complex to tourists. Children under 5 do not need a ticket.

Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, description and photo

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace is the place where the British royal family spends time almost daily. Of course, the probability of meeting any of the representatives of the monarchical system for an ordinary tourist is too small, however, sometimes people are allowed into the building even on the days when the Queen does not leave her residence. The interior decoration of the rooms available for a visit is impressive in its beauty, so it is possible to touch the life of Queen Elizabeth II without her direct involvement.

History of appearance

The royal residence in London.

The now world-famous palace was once the estate of John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. On assuming his new position, the statesman of England decided to build a small palace for his family, so in 1703 the future Buckingham House was founded. However, the built building did not like the Duke, which is why he almost did not live in it.

Top view of Buckingham Palace

George III later bought the mansion and all the surrounding territory, and in 1762 he decided to complete the existing structure and turn it into a palace worthy of the monarch’s family. The official residence was not to the ruler’s liking, as he found it small and uncomfortable.

The gates to the royal palace

Edward Blore and John Nash were appointed as architects. They proposed keeping the existing building, while adding similarly executed additions to it, enlarging the palace to the right size. It took 75 years for the workers to build a majestic structure to match the monarch. As a result, Buckingham Palace received a square shape with a detached center, where the inner courtyard is located.

Emblem on the gates

The palace became the official residence when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837. She, too, contributed to the alterations by slightly changing the facade of the building. During this period, the main entrance was moved and the Marble Arch, which adorns Hyde Park, was completed.

A guard outside a palace in the UK

It was not until 1853 that the most beautiful ballroom at Buckingham Palace was completed, measuring 36 m in length and 18 m in width. By order of the queen all efforts were spent to decorate the room, but the first ball could be given only in 1856 after the end of the Crimean War.


Queen's palace hall in London

The interior of the English palace was originally dominated by blue and pink hues, but today there are more cream and gold tones in its decoration. Each room has a unique finish, in particular, there are chambers in the Chinese style. Many people wonder how many rooms there are inside such a majestic structure, because it occupies a rather large area. In total, there are 775 rooms in the building, some of them are occupied by members of the royal family, the other part is used by the service staff. There are also auxiliary rooms, state and guest rooms, and halls for tourists.

Luxury of Buckingham Palace

The gardens of Buckingham Palace should be mentioned separately, because they are considered to be the largest in the capital. The foundation of this area is the merit of Lancelot Brown, but later the view of the whole territory has changed considerably. Now it is a huge park with a pond and waterfalls, bright flowerbeds and level lawns. The main inhabitants of these places are graceful flamingos, which are not afraid of the noise of the city and the many tourists. A monument in front of the palace was erected in honor of Queen Victoria, as the people loved her, no matter what.

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Accessible rooms for tourists

For most of the year, the gates of the royal residence are closed to ordinary people. Officially, Buckingham Palace turns into a museum during Elizabeth II’s vacation, which lasts from August to October. But even during this time to bypass the entire building is not allowed. Nineteen rooms are accessible to tourists. The most striking of these are:

Corridor of the royal residence

The first three rooms got their names because of the predominance of colors in their decoration. They captivate with their beauty from the first seconds of being inside, but besides that, in them you can see antiques and expensive collections. It is not necessary to paint what the Throne Room is famous for, because it can be called the main hall for ceremonies. Art lovers will certainly appreciate the gallery, where the originals of Rubens, Rembrandt and other famous artists are located.

Information for guests of the residence

Laying the Table for the Queen

It’s no secret the street where Buckingham Palace is located. Its address is London, SW1A 1AA. You can get there by subway, bus or cab. Even if you say in Russian which attraction you want to visit, any Englishman will explain how to get to everyone’s favorite palace.

Rooms of the Royal Residence

Entrance to the grounds of the residence is paid, and the price may vary depending on what places will be accessed and whether there will be a tour of the park. Reports from tourists recommend a stroll through the gardens, as they provide a different perspective on the life of the monarchs. In addition, any report talks about the great love of the English for landscaping.

Ceiling of Palace

It is worth mentioning that it is forbidden to take pictures inside the palace. You can buy pictures of the interior of famous rooms to keep these beauties in memory. But from the square you get no less good pictures, and also during the walk it is allowed to capture the elegance of the park area.

Interesting facts

Royal Carriage

Of those who lived in the palace, there were those who constantly criticized the luxurious halls and way of life in London. For example, according to Edward VIII, the residence was so mouldy that the smell of it haunted him everywhere. And despite the great number of rooms and the picturesque park, it was difficult for the heir to feel any privacy.

Apartments at the Palace in London

It is difficult to imagine how many servants are required to maintain such a large room at a proper level. From the descriptions of life in the residence we know that more than 700 people work hard to ensure that the palace and the entire surrounding area do not fall into disrepair. Most of the staff reside in the palace at all times to ensure the comfort of the royal family. It’s not hard to guess what the servants do, as they have to cook, clean, hold official receptions, keep an eye on the park, and do a dozen other things whose secrets do not extend beyond the walls of the palace.

The square in front of Buckingham Palace is known for a curious spectacle – the changing of the guard. In summer the guards change daily until noon, and during the lull the guards arrange a show of patrol only every other day. However, the guards have such an expressive uniform that tourists are sure to want to take pictures with the country’s guardsmen.

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