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Buckingham Palace, London

A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without visiting Buckingham Palace. The palace is located in the City of Westminster and has been the official residence of the British monarchs since 1837 during the time of Queen Victoria. The flying of the Royal Standard flag indicates that the Queen is in residence. Visitors can take a tour of Buckingham Palace in summer when the Queen is not residing.

Buckingham Palace is a huge grandeur building covering 77,000 sq. metres (830,000 sq. feet) comprising over 750 rooms including 19 State Rooms. The palace is a symbol of the British monarchy and the Queen uses the State Rooms for many state ceremonies and royal receptions such as entertaining dignitaries and meeting her subjects. Buckingham Palace is also the centre point during times of national rejoicing and mourning.

 Buckingham Palace by David Iliff

About

Constructed in 1703, Buckingham Palace was originally a townhouse called Buckingham House built for the Duke of Buckingham. King George III acquired the building in 1761 as a private residence for his wife Queen Charlotte. Later King George IV and subsequently King William IV enlarged the residence centring on a courtyard in the 19th century. The last major additions were in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

See & Do

The tour takes visitors to the State Rooms, which are rich in decoration and furnishing featuring marble columns, crafted furniture, fine sculptures, ornate carpets and many fine works of art. The paintings in the State Room include portraits of past kings, queens and other royalties. The highlight of the tour is the Throne Room where the Queen conducts many royal ceremonies, court gatherings, receiving royal addresses and the scene for many royal wedding photos.

Art collection at Buckingham Palace by HenryLayard

The Grand Staircase at Buckingham Palace is another highlight of the tour. Designed by John Nash for King George IV, the bronze staircase is impressive in design with its elaborate pattern featuring various configurations of leaves. Just as impressive is the intricately designed glass dome ceiling above the staircase. Along the staircase, there are beautiful paintings and sculptures by famous artists that include Rembrandt, Ruben, Van Dyck and Chantrey.

The Queen’s Gallery is located at the west front of Buckingham Palace. Artworks at the gallery are from the Royal Collection i.e. not privately owned by the monarch but held in trust for the nation. There are over 400 works of art on display at any one time and include priceless paintings, sculptures, decorative art and rare furniture. While Buckingham Palace only opens to the public in summer, the Queen’s Gallery opens daily throughout much of the year.

The Queen's Gallery by Andreas Praefcke

The Changing of the Guards is a major event as well as a tourist attraction. It’s the most often seen ceremony by visitors at Buckingham Palace. It is a major ceremony and one of the oldest military traditions at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony involves the New Guard relieving the Old Guard for sentry duty for a two-hour period! The ceremony occurs at the forecourt of the palace on a daily basis in the mornings from April to July and on alternate days throughout the rest of the year.

Guards of Buckingham Palace by Adrian Pingstone

Behind Buckingham Palace is a large park-like garden covering 16 hectares (40 acres) and includes a lake. The garden is the location for many royal events in summer including garden parties and events such as jubilees. The Mall is the ceremonial approach to Buckingham Palace and stretches from Admiralty Arch to Victoria Memorial situated near the front of the palace building. Each year on Saturday between 11th and 17th June, the Mall is the site of the ‘Trooping the Colour’. The event is a colourful and pomp ceremony involving troops from the Household Division paying tribute to the Queen.

Visiting Buckingham Palace

There is an admission fee to enter Buckingham Palace. In July and August, Buckingham Palace opens at 9:30 a.m. with the last admission at 5:15 p.m. while in September opens at 9:30 a.m. with the last admission at 6:15 p.m. A typical visit usually lasts from 2 and 2 1/2 hours. However, the Queen’s Gallery opens throughout the year from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The nearest London Underground station from Buckingham Palace are St James’s Park Station (8 minutes walk) serving the District and Circle Lines, Victoria Station (10 minutes walk) serving the Victoria, Circle and District Lines and Green Park Station (12 minutes walk) serving the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines. Buckingham Palace is about a 10-minutes walk from Victoria Coach Station and several London red buses stop nearby Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace on the Map

Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT, UK

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