Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the borough of Westminster, the palace is often at the center of royal ceremonies and state occasions. Guided tours of the staterooms are available when the palace is not in use for official functions. The royal shop at Buckingham Palace offers a range of gifts, collectibles, and souvenirs commissioned by the palace.
A Brief History of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the London home and administrative center of the British royal family. The enormous building and extensive gardens occupy 13-acre sites in the City of Westminster, and the palace has 775 rooms. It is a private residence for the royal family, but it is also a national treasure and a potent symbol to the British people.
The palace takes its name from the house it built (c. 1705) for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. George III bought it in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James’s Palace, where she often held court. During the 19th century, it was enlarged and remodeled by architects such as John Nash and Edward Blore to accommodate changing needs, tastes, and fashions. Today, Buckingham Palace is used extensively by the royal family for official functions such as state visits, investments, garden parties, and receptions for visiting dignitaries.
The Royal Standard
The Royal Standard is flown to royal residences only when the sovereign is present. If the Union Flag flies above Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, or any other royal residence, it indicates that the monarch is not currently in residence. Flags at Buckingham Palace vary according to the movements of the court and tradition. The King’s Flag Sergeant is responsible for all flags flown from the Palace and decides which flag to fly based on protocol.
The Royal Standard of the King used in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland is different from the one used in Canada. The Canadian version features a maple leaf in the center instead of a lion. Royal Standards flew from public buildings and royal residencies when Her Majesty’s was presently varied considerably in size. The normal, or fine weather one, is 3 feet by 4 feet (91 cm × 122 cm). It is a larger version, measuring 4 feet 6 inches by 6 feet (137 cm × 183 cm).
The Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard is a formal ceremony in which a new batch of soldiers relieves a group of soldiers. Changing of the Guard takes place at Buckingham Palace and is a popular London tourist attraction. The Changing of the Guard lasts for about 45 minutes and is a great opportunity to see the Queen’s Guard in their traditional uniforms.
Buckingham Palace Today
Tours are available on Fridays at 16:00 and 16:30; and Saturday & Sunday at 11:00, 11:30, 13:30, 14:00, and 14:30. Tours last around 90 minutes. View the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, the 19 rooms that form the heart of the working palace. See paintings from the Royal Collection, furniture, objects d’art, and the magnificent State Rooms used for official and state entertaining.
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site that has been in private hands for at least 500 years. King George III acquired it in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and became known as The Queen’s House.
Inside Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch and has been since 1837. The Palace is located in the City of Westminster, London, and is a short walk from Big Ben and Parliament. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, and 19 staterooms. The Palace gardens are the largest private gardens in London.
The Grand Staircase
Generally, The Grand Staircase at Buckingham Palace is one of the most impressive features of the palace’s interior. Sir John Nash designed the staircase and completed it in 1824. However, it is made of marble and has a grand central staircase with a wide landing and two side staircases. The staircase is decorated with a number of paintings and sculptures, including a bust of George III by Sir Joseph Nollekens.
The Throne Room
Normally, The Throne Room at Buckingham Palace is an impressive setting for a monarch to preside ‘in majesty’ over official ceremonies, to hold council, to grant audiences, or for other occasions. Generally, the room is decorated with a number of magnificent paintings and tapestries, and the throne itself is an imposing piece of furniture.
The Picture Gallery
Generally, Buckingham Palace’s Picture Gallery is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. The gallery is home to a vast array of paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, and Canaletto. However, it is also the setting for many royal receptions, state visits, and official functions.
Finally, Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Generally, the enormous building and extensive gardens are a tourist attraction in their own right. However, the Palace is also the setting for many important royal events, such as investments, garden parties, and state visits.