Location: London Congestion charge zone
Time to Visit: 1st August to 27th September
Preferred Timings: 9:45 am to 6 pm; last entry at 3:45 pm
Admission Fee: Adults – Â£16.50; Students (with valid ID) and Over 60 years – Â£15;
Under 17 – Â£9.50; Under 5 — Free; Family – Â£44 (2 adults and 3 under 17s)
How to Reach: By train to Victoria; by underground railway to Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Green Park; by bus nos. C1, C10, 239, 211, and 11
Nearest Railway Station: Victoria
Nearest Metro Station: Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park
Nearest International Airport: Heathrow, Gatwick
Time required for sightseeing: 2 to 2 Â½ hours
When you enter the Buckingham Palace, watch out for the flag on the top of the first tower in the palace. If it is hoisted, the Queen is in the House. Watch out for a possible motorcade coming out from the palace or entering, you may end up Queenspotting. If not, better luck next time. However, it is not only Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of Great Britain, who lives in the palace. “I delight in Buckingham Palace”, thus spoke Queen Victoria after she moved into her official residence within three weeks of accessing the British throne in 1837.
Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of British monarchs since Queen Victoria’s time was originally a townhouse built by the Duke of Scotland John Sheffield, a friend of Queen Anne. Buckingham Palace is among the most easily recognized buildings on the earth’s surface. London Buckingham Palace serves not only as of the official residence of the British monarch but also as the monarchial office. This palace is among the few remaining working royal palaces of the world.
The Palace of Buckingham with 775 rooms is partially accessible to visitors regularly. At the time of the Annual Summer Opening in August and September, the State Rooms of the Palace are opened to visitors. These State Rooms have an enviable collection of sculptures by Chantrey and Canova, paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Poussin, Claude, and Vermeer. Visitors also get to see the finest French and English furniture and porcelain from Sí¨vres.
Buckingham Palace is approachable by National Rail up to Victoria station. You can also avail of the underground railways to Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, or Victoria stations. Bus routes C1, C10, 239, 211 and 11 stop at Buckingham Palace Road. The first entry is at 9:45 hours and the last at 15:45 hours with timed tickets. Be alert to enter the Palace interiors at the specified time printed on your ticket, otherwise, the ticket becomes invalid. It ideally takes about 120 to 150 minutes to visit Buckingham Palace.
History of Buckingham Palace
In 1761 George III bought the Buckingham House for his Queen Charlotte as a comfortable family residence close to St. Jame’s Palace where most of the court functions were held. 1762 onwards, renovation began as per designs by Sir William Chambers for which the cost involved was Â£73,000. Thereafter in 1820, when George IV became the British king he set out reconstructing the Buckingham House. Under the able guidance of architect John Nash, he began reconstruction of the Buckingham House into Buckingham Palace at a cost of Â£450,000. Keeping the main block intact, George IV added a new wing representing French neo-classical architecture at the garden side facing west. These rooms constructed since John Nash’s time still remain as they were. Subsequently, the Marble Arch was built in the center of a courtyard in remembrance of the British naval victories in Waterloo and Trafalgar.
Queen Victoria was incidentally the first British monarch to take up residence in Buckingham Palace in 1837.
Large scale renovation on the frontal facade was made towards the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century under the supervision of architect Sir Aston Webb. French stone used in the frontal facades were replaced by Portland stones. The present-day forecourt, where ‘Changing the Guard’ is held, was constructed in 1911. In the same year setting up of the railings and gates was completed. The Central Gate is used for State occasions and departure of the guards after ‘Changing the Guards’ ceremony, while the North-Center gate is used for everyday access into the Palace.
Buckingham Palace today
The Buckingham Palace represents the constitutional monarchy of England. It is the venue for State Visits, Royal ceremonies, and Investitures which are arranged by the British Royal family. It houses the offices of The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and their immediate family members.
The Palace has a front of 108 meters, a depth of 120 meters, and a height of 24 meters. Its 775 rooms comprise 92 offices, 19 Staterooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, and 78 bathrooms. The Staterooms used regularly by members of the British Royalty form the core of the working Palace. Every year nearly 50,000 people visit the Buckingham Palace as guests to lunches, dinners, receptions, banquets and Royal Gaden Parties.
If you are an invited guest at the Palace, your first step beyond the threshold will be into the Grand Hall up the Grand marble staircase. The walls are adorned with portraits of royalties. The Throne Room is another important Stateroom dominated by a proscenium arch. A pair of winged figures signifying victory supports this arch. This room is used on special occasions like formal wedding photographs, Jubilees, and loyal addresses. The Throne Room also doubles up as a second dancing room.
Ballroom, the largest multi-purpose room in the Palace was constructed by Queen Victoria between 1853 and 1855. Measuring 36.6 meters in length, 18 meters in width, and 13.5 meters in height, the Ballroom was inaugurated in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the War of Crimea. The Queen hosts the State banquet and the Annual Diplomatic Reception in the Ballroom. In the Annual Diplomatic Reception, 1500 guests are invited including every head of missions. The Ballroom is also used for ‘Investitures’, a state occasion in which the Queen meets and awards the recipients of British honors including knighthoods.
The State Dining Room is another key room located on the western side of Buckingham Palace. 24 recipients of the Order of Merit, presidents, prime ministers, and other eminent personalities have been invited to dinners in this State Dining Room. The Music Room or Bow Drawing Room is another important room of this remarkable Palace.
The White Drawing Room, also called the North Drawing Room, overlooking the gardens is perhaps the most outstanding of all the Staterooms. This room is the Royal Reception of the Queen and Royal Family members.
The Buckingham Palace is open to public viewing from 1st August to 27th September between 9:45 am and 6 pm. Entry is allowed every 15 minutes on timed tickets. In case you skip your entry time slot the ticket becomes useless and a fresh ticket is to be bought. Tickets are priced at Â£16.50 for adults, Â£15 for students with valid identification and visitors above 60 years or more, Â£9.50 for visitors under 17 years of age, and free for children less than 5 years. Family ticket costing Â£44 allows entry for 2 adults and 3 children less than 17 years. The last entry is allowed at 3:45 pm. It takes about 2 to 2 Â½ hours to go around Buckingham Palace.
We provide you some internet links related to the Buckingham Palace tour that you may find interesting. Check them out:
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=HXN49o28EHA: For a tour guide to the Buckingham Palace, and a view of the major landmarks in the palace, watch this video.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=iUCcq04F8Fs: This video is actually part of a guided London tour. However, the Buckingham Palace features quite prominently in it. View it to get a feel of the imperial pride and the historic legacy of the city of London. Very informative and interesting!
http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/3200290.html: For some absolutely spectacular photographs of the Buckingham Palace, click on this link.