In a recent public vote hosted by YouGov Buckingham Palace beat Stonehenge and the Houses of Parliament as the best landmark attraction. The Palace includes 775 rooms of which the 19 State Rooms are open to the public between the 30th June and the 8th July, then again from the 31st July to the 7th October. So what do you see if you visit?
These are rooms designed and built to be the public rooms of the palace. They were first conceived by King George IV who reigned between 1820 -1830 and who wanted to transform the then Buckingham House into a grand palace. He commissioned the famous architect John Nash to design this transformation and apart from a lick of paint now and again the internal fabric of the rooms with their ornate ceilings and covings have stayed the same. When you visit the palace you will see paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, porcelain by Sèvres and many fine pieces of furniture.
What is Buckingham Palace used for today?
The palace remains the London home of the reigning monarch as it has been since 1837 – the Queen and Prince Philip have their private apartment in the north wing. These days it is also the administrative centre for the Royal Family and also acts as a reception venue for the 50,000 plus people who are invited to attend events there each year. These events vary from small lunches right up to receptions often around a theme such as ‘The British Clothing Industry’. Once a week if they are both in London the Queen meets with her Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exechequer also gets an audience before the Budget.
The Queen’s Gallery
Even Buckingham Palace did not escape the Blitz, during the Second World War a private chapel at the Palace was nearly destroyed by a bomb. It was rebuilt and became the Queen’s Gallery which is used to display items from the Royal Collection of fine art, books and maps, arms and armour, statues, porcelain. Many of the exhibits are changed each year as there are a great many items collected over 500 years by the kings and queens of England.
Special for 2012
This year we celebrate Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee, which means that the Queen has reigned for sixty years. This makes her the second longest reigning monarch; Queen Victoria currently holds that record. To mark the occasion the Queen has lent some of her personal jewellery and some items of state to an exhibition ‘Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration’ which demonstrates how diamonds have been used by the monarchy for the past 200 years. Preference has been given to items which show a particular style of setting, or which have been transformed at some point in their lives.
What else is there to see and do?
As well as exploring the State Rooms you can also have a look at the gardens and watch the Changing of the Guards. It is worth visiting the official website before visiting the palace itself as there are questions for children to find the answers to as they go round the rooms. There is also a free family audio tour for you to listen to featuring the voices of James and Rachel which is aimed at 9 – 11 year olds.
So if you are visiting London this summer Buckingham Palace is a great place to visit as agreed by 30% of the people who answered the survey.