Places to Visit in London: Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Updated On: April 29, 2024 by   Dina EssawyDina Essawy

If you know little about the British Royal Family, you must know their principal London residence, Buckingham Palace. The majestic estate was built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham. Now, it hosts many state occasions and royal visits from foreign dignitaries and officials.

If you’re planning to visit London anytime soon, add Buckingham Palace to the top of your list. Keep reading below to ensure you have all the details to make your visit enjoyable.

buckingham palace

The History of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace | London | Royal Family | England | Things to Do in London | London Attractions

Buckingham Palace was previously known as Buckingham House and remained in the private ownership of the Duke of Buckingham and his family for 150 years. In 1761, it was acquired by King George III and became a private residence for Queen Charlotte, which transformed its name to The Queen’s House. Upon the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, it was enlarged, and three additional wings were added to the building. From then on, Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch.

In modern times, Buckingham Palace did not escape the WWII attacks since it was bombed a total of nine times. The most publicized of those attacks destroyed the palace chapel in 1940. One of the bombs even fell in the palace while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in residence.

The Buildings and Gardens

Places to Visit in London: Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including 19 Staterooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. The front balcony of Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous in the world. The first recorded Royal balcony appearance occurred in 1851 when Queen Victoria stepped onto it during celebrations for the opening of the Great Exhibition. Since then, Royal Balcony appearances have marked many occasions, from The Queen’s annual official birthday celebrations to Royal Weddings. As well as special events of national significance, such as the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The Buckingham Palace gardens are known as the “walled oasis in the middle of London,” with over 350 different species of wildflowers. The highlight of a visit is a walk along the south side of the garden, with views over the famous lake.

Things to See in Buckingham Palace

The State Rooms

The State Rooms are only open to the public in the summer. Tourists can see the Palace’s 19 staterooms, beautifully furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection, including stunning works of art by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Poussin.

The Grand Staircase

During your visit to the State Rooms, you enter by walking up the Grand Staircase, designed by John Nash. Inspired by his experience working in London theatres, the majestic staircase leads up to one of the most essential rooms in the Palace.

Prince of Wales Exhibition

This year, the Palace tour will include an exhibition celebrating the 70th birthday of The Prince of Wales.

The Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery is a 47-metre room dedicated to the King’s picture collection. The paintings in the Gallery change regularly, as The Queen lends many works of art to exhibitions around the UK and overseas. The gallery is also used for receptions hosted by The Queen and members of the Royal Family to recognize achievement in a particular walk of life or sector in the community.

The Ballroom

The Ballroom is the largest of Buckingham Palace’s state rooms. It was established in 1855, during Queen Victoria’s reign. Today, the Ballroom is strictly used for official purposes, such as State Banquets.

Prince Charles Audio Tour

Another perk of the Buckingham Palace tour is getting a free audio guide to the palace, voiced by HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles). The guide will walk you through all 19 State Rooms and the annual special exhibition.

The Throne Room

The stunning Throne Room at Buckingham Palace is naturally a favourite among visitors. It is used for ceremonial receptions and doubles as a ballroom when necessary. It has also been used for some famous royal wedding photos, including the royal weddings of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth) and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

The Gardens

The Buckingham Palace gardens are spread out over 39 acres and contain more than 350 different types of wildflowers, as well as a large lake. The Queen is known to throw her annual Garden parties there. The tour will also include visiting the tennis courts where King George VI and Fred Perry played in the 1930s, the stunning herbaceous border, a wisteria-clad Summer House, the Rose Garden and the vast Waterloo Vase.

Garden Cafe and Garden Shop

Although it may be hard to believe, yes, Buckingham Palace does have a café where visitors ending their tours can order light refreshments and sandwiches, and they can also find a vast collection of gifts and souvenirs to remember their visit by.

Changing of the Guard

Places to Visit in London: Buckingham Palace

A trendy ceremony among visitors and tourists is the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’. The Queen’s Guard hands over the responsibility of protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard. The ceremony usually occurs at 11:00 am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. And daily in the summertime, so schedule your visit accordingly.

Opening Times

Buckingham Palace is located in the heart of London and is easily accessible by public transportation, including bus, tube, and train. The nearest underground stations are Victoria, Green Park, and St. James’s Park, all within walking distance of the palace.

The palace is open to visitors during the summer, typically from late July to early October, when the Queen resides at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Tickets for the State Rooms tour can be purchased in advance online or at the ticket office on the day of the visit. Booking tickets early is advisable, as they sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist season.

When planning a visit to Buckingham Palace, you must check the official website for updated information on opening hours, ticket prices, and special events or closures. Visitors should also be mindful of security regulations and dress code requirements.

Here are more details about Buckingham Palace’s ticket prices and opening times. So prepare for your trip to guarantee an enjoyable time at one of the world’s best-known landmarks.

The Palace is open to the public from Monday-Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

Surrounding Attractions

While Buckingham Palace undoubtedly takes centre stage, the surrounding area boasts many attractions that complement the royal experience.

St. James’s Park

Adjacent to Buckingham Palace lies St. James’s Park, a verdant oasis in the heart of London. The park has 23 hectares and features picturesque lakes, lush greenery, and diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy strolls along its meandering pathways, view panoramic palace views, or relax amidst the tranquil surroundings. The park also hosts various events and concerts throughout the year, making it a favourite destination for locals and tourists alike.

Royal Mews

Located adjacent to Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews is home to a stunning collection of historic carriages, state vehicles, and equestrian equipment. Visitors can embark on guided tours of the mews to learn about the role of these magnificent vehicles in royal ceremonies and events. Highlights include the Gold State Coach, which has been used for coronations since 1821, and the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which was commissioned to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, one of London’s most iconic religious landmarks, is a short distance from Buckingham Palace. With its soaring Gothic architecture and rich historical significance, the abbey has witnessed numerous royal weddings, coronations, and state funerals throughout its storied past. Visitors can explore its hallowed halls, marvel at its magnificent stained glass windows, and pay homage to monarchs and statesmen buried within its walls.

The Churchill War Rooms

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Churchill War Rooms offers a fascinating glimpse into Britain’s wartime past. Located beneath the streets of Westminster, this underground bunker served as the nerve centre of Winston Churchill’s government during World War II. Visitors can explore the meticulously preserved rooms where Churchill and his cabinet made critical decisions that shaped history. Interactive exhibits and multimedia displays bring the wartime era to life, offering a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made during Britain’s darkest hours.

Conclusion

Buckingham Palace is a timeless symbol of British monarchy and heritage, embodying centuries of history, tradition, and grandeur. From its majestic facade and opulent interiors to its lush gardens and ceremonial functions, the palace offers a captivating glimpse into the world of royalty.

Visiting Buckingham Palace is an essential part of the itinerary for tourists visiting London. It provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of British culture and history. Whether marvelling at the grandeur of the State Rooms, witnessing the Changing of the Guard ceremony, or strolling through the serene gardens, a visit to Buckingham Palace promises an unforgettable experience steeped in royal splendour.

If you liked this blog post, then make sure you check out some of our other blogs; Royal Courts of Justice, Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace, St. James Park London, Temple Church, Trafalgar Square, Royal Albert Hall, Tate Modern, Hay’s Galleria, Westminster Abbey.

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