Buckingham Palace opens its doors every summer from July to October for the public to take a peek inside its magnificent state rooms and garden. This year the Palace won’t be holding its annual opening, though I did get the chance to visit last year so I thought I would share my experience of what it is like to tour the Queen’s official residence.
We had booked our ticket in advance for a specific time as the tours sell out quickly. You enter the Palace grounds just next to the Queens Gallery, this is where you are given a quick introduction and a headset for an audio guided tour around the state rooms. You are sent into the palace to freely walk the route and through the windows at the entrance you get a glimpse of the ‘quadrangle’, the open air square in which all of the palace quarters surround. Imagine you are looking in through the palace gates at the front near the Victoria memorial, well this is the reverse of what you are looking at.
So far you are still in a very dull and boring looking corridor, a complete contradiction to the next room you enter, The Grand Entrance & Staircase. This is where you follow the footsteps of many distinguished famous faces who have been invited to the palace. Kings & Queens, presidents, actors, sports stars and many more have all been welcomed in this magnificent grand entrance area adorned with paintings, sculptures and intricate cravings. It is an impressive start that really does make you feel like royalty. Unfortunately from this point photography or videos are forbidden in the state rooms but I hope this plan from the souvenir guide and my descriptions help bring it to life!
You proceed up the stairs, while the audio headset describes all the major features of each room, the walk through takes you through what seems to be endless high ceiling rooms in a multitude of colours but they all have a specific significance to the royal palace. The Green Drawing room is first where guests gather for drinks before official ceremonies, then next door we have the throne room intended for ceremonial receptions, though now is more commonly used as the grand setting for formal photographs with the family and heads of states. The stunning glass chandelier above and the embroidered thrones with Elizabeth and Phillips initials really make you feel the importance and the amount of history that this room contains. Whether you are a royalist or not, you have to admire the beauty and significance that these rooms have.
The next room is the spine of the state apartments and the longest of them all. It displays an outstanding collection of Dutch & Flemish sculptures and paintings originally from George IV’s reign with most still hanging today underneath the domed glass roof. Continuing to my favourite area so far, the Ballroom! It is used for state banquets more recently, but was previously the home to entertaining guests with dances. The palace set the scene by recreating what it would be like in its hey day through the use of moving holograms depicting the large ballroom gowns and music that would be played.
You continue through to the state dining room which was set up with lavish crockery used for charity dinners; the music room sometimes used to christen younger members of the family; as well as the white and blue drawing rooms with one of these mirrors providing a secret entrance to the Queen’s private apartments, you can actually see it hanging slightly open in the white drawing room.
Finally you exit the palace via the bow room to the gardens, its main feature is the artificial lake completed in 1828 and is actually served water from the serpentine in Hyde park. The mound and plants around the perimeter act as a barrier from the surrounding roads making the area seem bigger than it is. A huge temporary built marquee is the tours gift shop selling a host of Buckingham palace branded souvenirs and there is an opportunity to have a photo with the royal family on the ‘palace balcony’ too!
When the Palace reopens for tours, I would definitely recommend a visit, I have always been intrigued to see inside after many years of walking the edge and peeking through the gates, so seeing what is inside and the details of the palace is a great experience. Add it to your list for next year!
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