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London's Royal Palaces & Attractions
with Burlington Bertie
Buckingham Palace 2007. Photo credit: Leora Chai
Venue: London SW1A 1AA. (Buckingham Gate entrance)
Access: State Rooms and Palace gardens.Occasional VIP evening escorted tours out of season may be available during the year. Check Check Palace Diary for details.
Tickets: Book a tour Online to avoid lengthy queues or disappointment on the day.
London Transport Nearest Tube. Victoria Station rail terminal.
Wheelchair accessibility :. Yes. Accessible toilets in Palace Gardens
Buckingham Palace State Rooms, used by Sovereign and Royal Family to receive and entertain guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions, are opened to the public each summer, while Her Majesty is in Scotland, residing at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh and on vacation at Balmoral Castle
Entry is through the Ambassador's Entrance and you will pass through 19 lavishly decorated State rooms used for receiving official guests, state banquets and receptions.
Some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, held in trust for the nation, are on display. These include landscapes and portraits painted by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin, van Dyck, Canaletto, Laurence; sculpture by Canova; exquisite examples of Svres porcelain; horological masterpieces, and some of the finest English and French furniture. All have been acquired over four centuries by Britain's monarchs, a number of whom were avid and knowledgeable collectors and dedicated patrons of the arts.
The Royal Collection, (chaired by Prince Charles), mounts a special historical exhibition each year for summer visitors in the State Ballroom, much used by Queen Victoria in the early carefree years of her reign and now venue for state banquets and Investitures.
You exit from the west frontage of the Palace though the charmingly understated Bow Room, (pause to admire the collection of porcelain from the now defunct Chelsea Pottery), to find yourself in the Palace gardens, a green oasis of peaceful tranquility and wildlife in the heart of the city. This is where the annual series of official 'informal' summer Royal Garden Parties are held each year for some 30,000 people. Enjoy a walk by the lake and the rarely seen views of architect Nash's west facade of the palace before pausing at the Royal Collection souvenir shop and a cup of tea in the cafe near the exit.
Burlington Bertie's Verdict: The Palace tour is more formal and less geared to straightforward entertainment than a visit to the Tower of London or Hampton Court Palace, where you can expect to see players reenacting historical events. This is a working palace used by the Head of State and supporting staff, not a museum, although the wealth of fine art and artifacts in situ represent a priceless collection of evolving artistic taste and fashion built up by successive monarchs over the past four centuries.
The Palace and Gardens tour offers excellent value for money provided you view at a leisured pace and can cope with visual indigestion from a glut of gilt and gold leaf designed by George IV and his successors William IV and Queen Victoria to add pomp and circumstance to Palace protocol.
Make use of the free audio guide, an excellent and essential companion on your tour of the State Rooms. It comprehensively answers most, if not all, the questions you may have. The uniformed attendants in each room are both informed and helpful and will answer any additional queries. They appear to know all the answers.
Buy the discounted The Royal Day Out ticket. This enables you to see Palace, Royal Mews and Queen's Gallery on one ticket without the restriction of timed entry. If you have the stamina of youth, you will wish to make a full day of it. Lesser mortals however will do the Royal Day Out in easier stages, visiting the Palace and gardens first on one day and returning on another day to see All The Queen's Horses and The Queen's Gallery.
Check out the Royal Collection's Virtual Tour for a preview of the grand Ambassador's Entrance, the Throne Room, the Blue Drawing Room and the White Drawing Room.
YouTube: A superb description of the Palace
YouTube: Photographs of the state and private rooms with music
YouTube: Reception at Buckingham Palace
The Queen's Gallery
The Royal Mews