It may not be HM The Queen’s favourite palace (apparently Windsor Castle holds first place in her heart), but Buckingham Palace is The Queen’s official London residence and an amazing place to visit for a glimpse into monarchy past, present and future.
From the Changing of the Guard, to the Royal Mews, The Queen’s Gallery, and the State Rooms, there is much more to this iconic palace than may initially meet the eye!
Buckingham Palace State Rooms
There is always something new to see when you visit Buckingham Palace – and more so than ever this year, in Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Year. In addition to tours of the breathtaking State Rooms, this year’s special exhibition looks at The Queen’s Accession to the throne in 1952.
Most years the tour of the State Rooms includes many rooms you may recognise from pictures you have seen. There’s the Music Room, with its beautiful blue scagliola columns between arched mirrors and doorways, where both HRH Prince Charles and Prince William were Christened, the magnificent Throne Room, and my favourite room, The White Drawing Room. The Queen is said to appear as if by magic at receptions in this room. See if you can spot the hidden door disguised as a mirror and a cabinet through which she enters.
Walking up the Grand Staircase always gives me a thrill. On one memorable occasion, we drank champagne in The Bow Room after a private tour – it was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments!
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open 22nd July to 2 October 2022. Private View/ Tours of the State Rooms in small groups with a personal guide are sometimes available outside of normal opening hours on select dates throughout the year. I have been on three of these at Buckingham Palace and two at Windsor Castle and can highly recommend them. Private View/Tours suitable for families with children are also offered.
This year’s private tours are currently all sold out, but you can sign up to the mailing list at The Royal Collection Trust to be informed if more dates open up. If you are planning to take the general admission tours, I recommend booking very soon.
Buckingham Palace Gardens
Buckingham Palace has over 35 acres of gardens, highlights of which can be seen on a tour available as part of a combination ticket with a visit to The State Rooms. Special guided tours of the garden are also available on selected dates in the spring. Visit The Royal Collection Trust website to find out more and book.
Changing of the Guard
The music and sheer spectacle of this traditional ceremony is something both kids and adults will love! Dates for the Changing of the Guard vary throughout the year, so check out the Changing of the Guard website for more information.
The ceremony generally starts at 11.00am sharp on the days it is held, but the crowds build up very early so plan to arrive well before.
Don’t Miss The Royal Mews
Step inside the working Royal world when you visit one of the finest working stables in the world, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Many of the Palace staff have homes in the Mews; this is also where the horses used in State Ceremonies are stabled. The beautiful state coaches – including The Gold State Coach used for The Queen’s Coronation – are on display here, and you can also see the historic livery worn by The Queen’s Coachmen. This year the Mews are open from 19th May to 2nd October.
Enjoy The Queen’s Gallery
The Queen’s Gallery showcases the art and treasures held in trust for the nation by The Queen. Offering changing exhibitions throughout the year. Free audio guides are also available. This year the Queen’s Gallery is open from 8th April. Again, be sure to check The Royal Collection website for opening times.
Outside Buckingham Palace – The Queen Victoria Memorial
The impressive monument located in front of Buckingham Palace, The Queen Victoria Memorial includes the Canada Gate (bottom left), the Australia Gate and the South and West Africa Gates as well as the Memorial Gardens and a huge central monument (top right). The central monument includes sculptures of Queen Victoria as well as the virtues attributed to her: constancy, courage, victory, charity, truth and motherhood.
Tickets for Tours of the State Rooms, The Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery are all available from The Royal Collection Trust. Family tickets are available, as are combined tickets for all three locations.
Tickets purchased from the Trust may be converted to an annual pass on the day of your visit to give you 12 months complimentary admission to the site(s) you have visited, should you wish to return. (Conditions apply. Return visits must be booked in advance.)
Location – Getting There
Buckingham Palace is located at the top of The Mall on Buckingham Palace Road. The closest underground (London’s subway) station is Green Park on the Victoria Line. Walk out of the station, across Green Park and through the Canada Gates to the Palace. Or take the longer walk up The Mall from Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch and up to Buckingham Palace.
The Royal Mews, The Queen’s Gallery and the entrance to the State Rooms are all located around the corner from Buckingham Palace in Buckingham Palace Road (to the left as you face the Palace).