Buckingham Palace has served as the official residence for the Royal family since 1837. While many visitors might not be aware of the treasures inside, most will be familiar with the ‘famous balcony’ used for special occasions and in recent years the ‘official’ kiss of the newly-wedded Prince William and Kate.
This summer (July – September) sees the palace host a special exhibition to celebrate the Queen’s 60th anniversary since her coronation in 1953. Here you will find the dress she wore, as well as uniforms and robes of principal members of the royal family alongside works of art, paintings and objects used on the day. The whole exhibition transports visitors back in time and recreates the atmosphere of the day.
There are a number of tours available, with the most exclusive being the Tour of the State Rooms. This MUST be booked in advance and sells out very quickly. You will be taken through rooms adorned with glittering chandeliers and exquisite works of art and furniture, all outside of normal opening hours. The group size is kept to a maximum of 30 and your expert guide will be able to embellish you with intimate stories from behind the scenes. The tour ends, as it should, with a glass of champagne served in the Grand Entrance.
If you want to see as much as possible then book yourself on The State Rooms and Garden Highlights Tour. There is the option to do these both separately but this tour combines the two into a 3 ½ hour journey where your guide leads you through hundreds of years of history. See the 19 State Rooms furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection then move outside to the beautifully maintained gardens where your guide will show you some of the little gems, such as where King George VI played tennis with Fred Perry.
When travelling with children you might prefer something a little less formal. Why not take them on a tour aided by an audio guide? This is aimed at the younger visitors between the ages of 7 and 11. The tour is introduced by The Prince of Wales and provides a fun and lively commentary to the sights in the State Rooms and any special exhibitions. Children love it and it gives the adults a chance to relax and enjoy the palace without having to answer a plethora of questions.
For something truly spectacular and traditionally British go and watch Changing the Guard. This is British pageantry at its finest. The ceremony is approximately 45 minutes and starts around 11:30 daily between May and July. Outside of this season it takes place on alternate days, weather permitting. It has been a tradition since 1660 and it is where the regiments that comprise the Household Troops take over from one another. It is quite a unique sight and definitely a ‘must see’!!
There are a variety of tours to choose from depending upon your taste and budget – if opting for a tour book in advance. All normal admission prices include the audio tour.
There are a number of activities including puzzles and colouring to keep younger visitors engaged and enthralled.
How to get there:
It is very centrally located and is only a 10 minute walk from Victoria Coach, train and Underground station.
If visiting during the summer pop into the Garden café on the Palace’s West Terrace for a quintessentially English afternoon tea.