A Tour of Buckingham Palace

The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to the public over the summer and it’s a wonderful opportunity to be shown around the Queen’s London home. The tour takes you round all the grandest rooms of the palace including the Throne Room, the Ballroom where State Banquets are held, and the lavishly decorated official drawing rooms.

This year’s tour includes entrance to an exhibition on 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe. It’s particularly exciting as the Queen’s wedding dress and Coronation dress will be on display together for the first time ever.

The tour takes you to nineteen of the State Rooms which the Queen uses for ceremonial occasions and entertains official visitors. You’ll see paintings by Rubens and Rembrandt and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.

We visited Buckingham Palace last summer and we are still talking about it. Harry, my 9-year-old, kept going back to the start of the tour so that he could keep climbing up the Grand Staircase, pretending he was the Queen. The visit really fired up the boys’ imaginations and they have been holding coronations for their toys ever since. I have given up telling them that it’s “crowning”, not “coronating” – apparently coronating sound far grander.

Here’s what they thought about it. You’ll find my tips for families at the end.

EdwardBy Edward, age 11

Buckingham Palace is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Great Britain. It’s horribly busy but it’s completely worth it to visit the State Rooms. It is one of the oldest working palaces in the world and the State Rooms are so beautiful and grand.

Buckingham Palace actually started out as Buckingham House owned by the Duke of Buckingham. King George III bought the house for his wife as a private retreat. When George IV became king he began turning the house into a palace. He appointed the architect John Nash, who was later dismissed by Parliament for spending too much. The architect, Edward Blore was later employed to finish the palace for the new Queen Victoria.

The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

The tour of the State Rooms begins at the Grand Entrance. This entrance is reserved for foreign ambassadors and diplomats. You’ll see the Quadrangle, the courtyard in the middle of the palace, where processions form for special occasions. On a state visit, the mounted band of the Household Division also plays here to welcome the visiting Head of State and their entourage.

At the end of the Quadrangle looms the magnificence of the Grand Entrance, with its many columns and facades. Inside, it is even more magnificent with its red carpet and fireplace made from a single block of marble. Upstairs the Grand Staircase invites you up with its elegant curls. Through the Guard Chamber, which looks like the inside of a giant jewel box, you’ll find the Green Drawing Room with its green walls, green sofas and green curtains.

Harry

Continued by Harry, age 9

Buckingham Palace is an outstanding place to visit. It is so historical, whether you’re in the Ballroom or walking up the beautiful Grand Staircase. But before you go exploring let me tell you one thing. You will see loads and loads of gold! And if you’re thinking about gold doors, gold chairs and gold tables you should see the Ballroom.

When you have finished going around the beautiful Green Drawing Room you walk into the Throne Room. All the other rooms you have walked through prepare you for this moment. When you walk through the grand archway you will almost definitely be looking not at the magnificent walls but at the velvet canopy and beneath that, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh’s official thrones.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Did you know Queen Victoria was the first monarch to make use of the Throne Room and that nearly all the official Royal Family wedding photos are taken in there?

One of my highlights was the Ballroom because when we went it was all set up for a state banquet. It was so majestic! There were hundreds of glasses and gold plates everywhere!

As you walk around you will find out lots of interesting facts about the Royal Family. For example, the Queen’s three eldest children and her grandson, Prince William, were baptised in the Music Room by the Archbishop of Canterbury with water brought from the River Jordan. And in the exquisite White Drawing Room there’s even a secret entrance behind a mirror so that the Royal Family can enter the State Rooms from their private apartments.

In the famous gardens you’ll find the Family Pavilion. This is a great place for children to play as they can dress up in clothes from the Dressing Up Box and pose in front of cardboard thrones. You can also work out the place settings for a Royal Banquet using cardboard cut-outs of cutlery, plates and glasses.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

Be prepared to queue: We went on the first day of the Summer Opening and the queues were horrendous. We had a timed entrance slot on our ticket but had to queue for at least an hour before we got in. The queues might be slightly better if you go in September.

No pushchairs are allowed in the State Rooms: You will need to leave your pushchair at the security area before you start the tour. You can pick up a baby carrier or hip seat for a toddler instead.

Going to the toilet is an event in itself: There are no public toilets at the start of the tour which can be something of a problem if you’ve been queueing for an hour to get into the Palace in the first place. The public toilets are in the garden, at the end of the tour. But if you say you’re desperate, helpful staff will lift up all sorts of barriers and give you a VIP escort to some toilets halfway around the tour. Sadly, they didn’t look like the ones the Queen uses which would have been even more thrilling.

The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open daily from 23rd July until 2nd October. Adults, £21.50; children, £12.30; under 5s, free; family ticket, £55.30.

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48 thoughts on “A Tour of Buckingham Palace

  1. Fabulous. We haven’t been yet and thanks to your tip on the toilet queues I think we will leave it another year. I just love the Throne Room but most of all I love Harry posing in full regalia. Your boys are talented writers like their mum

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    • That throne room is wonderful! It really felt quite thrilling seeing the thrones. Harry, my youngest, was desperate to sit on them – which he couldn’t – so he was rather pleased to have a fake one to dress up and pose on later!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You should definitely add it to your London list, Tanja. Yes, the toilets were pretty smart, like those in a good hotel, but they didn’t look like the ones the family would use! I think that would have been far more exciting and definitely added to the tour experience!

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  2. I still haven’t made it to look around Buckingham Palace. I think my daughter may still be a little young for it. Sounds great though and your boys clearly really enjoyed the trip. It is great to hear their thoughts and how much they took away from the visit. I would love to see the Queeen’s wardrobe exhibit so maybe me and the little daughter take a trip! #citytripping

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    • They do something extra special every year for the visitors on the tour and this year it’s the wedding and coronation gowns. It really would be amazing to see. My youngest is begging us to take him again!

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  3. I still haven’t made it to Buckingham Palace in all the years I’ve lived in and visited London -put off slightly by the price but it does look amazing and I think it’ll be a real experience for when my daughter’s older. I love the tip about the toilet but think an hour’s queue would be beyond her and I’m sure an accident on state carpets is probably lese majeste! Love reading your boys’ impressions too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

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  4. I’m moving to London in a few weeks so this comes in handy! I’ve only seen Buckingham Palace from the outside the first time I went to London but will definitely make sure I’d be able to go in this time around since I’ll have more time to explore it. 🙂

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  5. This is a glorious article! I am so impressed with your sons attention to detail and interest in history. They both wrote such compelling and interesting pieces. I really loved that you included their perspectives.

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  6. I love how you’ve written this through the eyes of your sons. They are so well spoken and mature! My girls – though a bit younger – just want to go on the flipping I pad these days I’m about to throw it out the window! Showing this to them..:).

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  7. Fascinating post as usual, Clare 🙂 I really enjoyed reading this and including your sons’ perspective was a nice touch! I’ve only been to the outside of Buckingham Palace but would definitely love to take this tour someday, hopefully in September! I abhor queuing, haha.

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    • Thank you so much, Michelle. Me too – I get all twitchy and hot and bothered if I have to queue for anything. I’m always trying to search out the queue-busting trips everywhere I go! Thanks so much for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I had no idea you were able to go inside the palace. This is something I would like to do since I am a fan of palaces and castles. It was cool to read the kids perspective about the place.

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  9. Thank you for this beautiful tour, Edward. I’ve been in London for a week a few years ago but didn’t manage to visit Buckingham Palace. I enjoyed reading your post at #TheWeeklyPostcard blog link-up.

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