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The official London residence of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh

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Front Facade
The Balcony
Changing of the Guards
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It is here in the state apartments that Her Majesty receives and entertains guests invited to the Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II
Photo in the public domain
The Palace was originally built in 1702 by the Duke of Buckingham as his London town house.  The Duke’s son sold the house and in 1774 Queen Charlotte lived here; the house then became known as The Queens House.  It passed to King George IV and he had the house extended into a substantial palace, creating a new suite of rooms facing the garden, in a French Classic style.

Buckingham House c1710
Photo in the public domain
The first monarch to occupy the palace was Queen Victoria in 1837 and among the many changes made at this time, was the removal of the huge arched gateway to Tyburn, where it become known as Marble Arch. Additions to the front of the building were made in 1913, including the famous balcony where members of the royal family wave to the crowds on special occasions.

The famous Balcony
Photo TourNorfolk

Did You Know?

The palace chapel was hit by a bomb in World War II and subsequently royal christenings have taken place in the Music Room. The Queen's first three children were all baptised here in a special gold font. Prince William was also christened in the Music Room; however, his brother, Prince Harry, was christened at St George's Chapel, Windsor.
Taking you on a quick tour of the Palace; starting in the Grand Entrance Hall, we find the Grand Staircase with floral gilt-bronze balustrade, rising from the grand hall to the state rooms on the first floor.
Next is the Green Drawing Room, which was the site of Queen Charlotte’s salon and has vibrantly coloured silk walls with a beautifully coved and gilded ceiling.
Then there is the splendid scarlet and gold Throne Room, where you can see the thrones used at the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen in 1953.
The magnificent State Ballroom is used for banquets and entertaining visiting heads of state. The room was opened by Queen Victoria in 1856 to celebrate the end of the Crimean war.

The State Ballroom in 1856 by Louis Haghe
Photo in the public domain
Moving into the Picture Gallery, which is the largest room in the Palace, we discover wonderful art treasures from the Royal Collection by Rubens, Rembrandt, Canaletto, Van Dyck, Vermeer, and many others. You will also see portraits of Kings and Queens such as George III and IV, in the State Dining Room.
In the Blue Drawing Room, note the thirty fake onyx columns and the Sevres porcelain table which was made for Napoleon.
From the semicircular bow window of the domed Music Room you will have a good view of the garden and grounds. The Archbishop of Canterbury has christened four royal babies in this room.
Perhaps most magnificent of all, is the White Drawing Room, furnished with French antiques and English cut glass chandeliers suspended from the beautiful ceiling, the delicate colours of the furnishings standing out against the gold walls.

Buckingham Palace Gates
Photo Jimmy Harris
Outside, the large gardens contain a four acre lake and are a haven for many kinds of wildlife. The gardens are used regularly for various parties and events.

The rear of Buckingham Palace
Photo Anubis3

Did You Know?

On September 15, 1940 an RAF pilot, Ray Holmes, rammed a German plane attempting to bomb the palace. Holmes had run out of ammunition and made the quick choice to ram. Both planes crashed and their pilots survived. The plane's engine was later exhibited at the Imperial War Museum in London. Following the war the British pilot became a King's Messenger. He died at the age of 90 in 2005.
One of the most famous events at the Palace is the changing of the guard which takes place most mornings. You will see the guards, dressed in red tunics and black bearskin hats, marching to the front of the palace from nearby Wellington Barracks.

Changing the Guard
Photo in the public domain

Guarding the Palace
Photo TourNorfolk
Visitor Information
The Buckingham Palace State Rooms are open daily, but only August and September. Entry costs around £17 per adult, £9 for children. The Queen's Gallery (showing changing exhibits from the Queen's collection) is open daily 10am to 5.30pm. Entry costs around £9 per adult, £5 for children. The Changing of the Guard takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30am every day in summer, every other day in winter, and lasts about 45 minutes. You can visit at any time of the day or night to simply stand in front of the famous gates. If the Queen is in residence, a royal flag will be flying over the Palace. Tel: 020 7766 7301

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