Drawing crowds of over half a million visitors each year, Buckingham Palace is easily one of the country’s top tourist attractions and one of the world’s most famous buildings.
The origins of Buckingham Palace date back to the early 18th century, when the Duke of Buckingham built Buckingham House. Architect John Nash renovated the house into a palace in 1820, vastly exceeding his budget. In 1761, George III bought the house for his wife, Queen Charlotte, but the first monarch to name the palace as her official residence was Queen Victoria in 1837.
The palace today
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the Queen and Prince Philip, but other members of the Royal Family who live there include the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children. If the Royal Standard flag is flying, this indicates that the Queen is currently in residence.
As well as being a home for the Royal Family, Buckingham Palace is also an administrative office for the monarchy. Approximately 400 staff work there including servants, chefs, cleaners, plumbers, footmen, gardeners and electricians. With more than 300 clocks in the building, two horologists are also employed to keep them ticking.
Buckingham Palace has a whopping 775 rooms including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 78 bathrooms and 92 offices. It also has a cinema, swimming room, post office, doctor’s surgery and police station.
Entertainment and events
With more than 50,000 guests invited to the building, Buckingham Palace also plays host to many parties, events, banquets, lunches and receptions each year. The Diplomatic Reception is one of the biggest events of the year, as are the Investitures or Honours List ceremonies.
Guarding the palace
Security is a major feature at Buckingham Palace, but it is also a tourist attraction in its own right. As part of the Household Division, The Royal Guards are made up of seven regiments of the British Army. This includes two regiments of the Household Cavalry (The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals), as well as five regiments of Foot Guards.
The Changing of the Guards is a major attraction that takes place outside Buckingham Palace at 11am daily. This ceremony involves the Old Guard handing over responsibility for the protection of the palace to a New Guard, culminating with a march and musical accompaniment from a Regimental Band.
If you are interested in seeing the Changing of the Guards, please check the scheduled times.
Visiting Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace has been open to the public during the summer for the past 20 years. Visitors have access to the State Rooms, the Throne Room, the Ballroom and the option to tour the garden. The Grand Staircase, fine art collections and Sevres Porcelain are also highlights of a visit.
As a national treasure, a visit to Buckingham Palace should be on everyone’s agenda at some point or other. Whether you plan to visit as part of a school trip or a family outing, why not travel together in style in a quality van or minibus from H&H Van Hire?