As soon as it opens its doors for the summer on August 1st, sightseers will flock to Buckingham Palace in their thousands to see how the other half live.
We round-up some of our favourite things to do and see at this most prestigious of locations. And don’t miss our serviced apartments near Buckingham Palace.
Marvel at the majesty of the Grand Staircase
There is some wonderful art and sculpture on display at the Queen’s residence – paintings from the likes of Vermeer, Canaletto and Rembrandt; sculpture from Canova – but visitors are usually more taken by the ornate furnishings. The intricately-wrought, gilt-bronze staircase (known as the Grand Staircase) found in what used to be the palace’s entrance hall is a particular highlight – so don’t miss it.
Top fact: The staircase was designed by architect Sir John Nash and commissioned by King George VI.
Keep children entertained with a wander round the gardens
Children may not be quite as impressed as adults by the pomp and prestige of the interiors but the palace’s gardens are a different story. Watch them come to life as they begin the Garden Trail – designed to help children explore the 39 acres in a fun and educational way – and spot the helipad and tennis court (where Wimbledon winner Fred Perry once rallied with King George VI). Older guests, meanwhile, will probably be more content to enjoy the picture-perfect Rose Garden and Wisteria-clad Summer House.
Top fact: Look out for the three-acre lake which Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, once fell into.
Take a tour of the State Rooms with His Royal Highness
The palace provides each visitor with a free audio guide for their tour of the 19 State Rooms and special exhibition, with a welcome from Prince Charles and interviews with members of staff elucidating each step of the way. If you do not wish to use the audio guides (which are available in many languages), keep an eye out for the prized pieces of Sèvres porcelain and the secret door used by the Queen to enter the State Rooms from her apartments.
Top fact: Two experts are employed solely to maintain and wind up the palace’s 350 watches and clocks.
Get twinkle-toed in the famous ballroom
The largest room in Buckingham Palace, the ballroom was originally opened in 1856 in time to be used for a party celebrating the end of the Crimean War. Today it plays host to all manner of social occasions and state banquets – and certainly looks the part with its high ceiling, low-slung candelabras and reams of antique cutlery.
Top fact: The ballroom is a staggering 13.5 metres high!
Strike a royal pose in the Throne Room
There are a whopping 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace but one holds particular appeal among visitors. The Throne Room is where newlywed royals come to strike a pose – think Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 and Prince William and the Duchess of Kent in 2011 – which is why there are two thrones lovingly placed next to one another. The romance of the room is tangible, especially once you discover that it can also double up as a ballroom.
Top fact: The Throne Room hosted the formal receptions for the Queen’s jubilees in 1977 and 2002.
Buckingham Palace has proved a real hit with sightseers since first opening its doors to the public in 1992. It seems we all fancy a snoop around one of the world’s most famous buildings! Whether you are drawn here because of the architecture, art or history, the experience will not disappoint – especially if you use our handy guide!