Buckingham Palace

Have you ever wanted to visit the Queen?

Well we can’t promise afternoon tea with her, but how about visiting one of her main residences?

As one of London’s most iconic buildings and most popular tourist attractions, Buckingham Palace is the main London residence and official headquarters of Queen Elizabeth II.


What Is Buckingham Palace?

what is iconBuckingham Palace is one of the few working royal palaces in the world and the British Queen, Elizabeth II (along with, prior to his death in 2021, her husband Prince Philip), live there during the week for the majority of the year.

The palace sees visits from more than 50,000 people each year and it boasts 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms where the Queen receives official guests.

With this many rooms there are a number of people working there and approximately 400 members of staff are employed to ensure its smooth running.


A Brief History Of Buckingham Palace

historyOriginally built as a large townhouse in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, King George III later purchased it for his wife Queen Charlotte in 1761 where it became known as the Queen’s House.

King George IV instigated the reconstruction and expansion of the building into a palace by architect John Nash in 1820.

It was not until 1837 that a monarch used the palace as a primary residence when Queen Victoria moved her household in.

Further renovations were done in the early 20th century which established the features that are recognised as the palace we see today.


Buckingham Palace photo montage

Key Features

key features iconSo what can you expect to see when you visit Buckingham Palace?

The State rooms

There are 19 State rooms at Buckingham Palace and these rooms are where the Queen and the Royal family meet and greet their official visitors.

The majority of the rooms are decorated based on the taste of King George IV and contain some of the beautiful treasures that are part of the Royal Collection.

Some of the main highlights are:

  • The White Drawing room - one of the most spectacular of the State rooms and it is a royal reception room for the Royal family to meet in before any official occasions. The Queen enters this room from her quarters via a secret door disguised as a mirror and cabinet!
  • The Throne room - This contains the pair of throne chairs called the Chairs of Estate which were used in the Coronation of the Queen in 1953. There are also throne chairs contained in here that were used for the Coronation of Queen Victoria and King George IV.
  • The Ballroom - the largest of the State rooms is used for investitures and State Banquets and contains a musician’s gallery and other throne chairs that were used in the Coronation of King Edward VII.
  • The Grand Staircase - The entrance to the State rooms is via the Grand Staircase and is inspired by traditional London theatres. The stairs are lined with various full length portraits of Queen Victoria and her family.

Royal Mews

The Royal Mews is the section of the palace that is responsible for all the road travel arrangements for the Queen and members of the Royal family.

There are many historic royal carriages there to view including the stunning four ton Gold State coach which has been used in a number of coronations and also the Diamond Jubilee state coach.

There is a working stables onsite which house the carriage horses of which there are two types of horse kept and used - Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays.

The livery worn by the Queen’s coachmen for different occasions is also on display at the Mews.

The Queen’s Gallery

The gallery has exhibitions that change every few months and takes certain pieces from the Royal Collection which is the largest private art collection in the world.

The collection contains more than 1 million objects ranging from Old Master paintings to rare pieces of furniture and photographs and these are rotated for viewing in the gallery.

Changing of the Guard

The world-renowned spectacle that is the Changing of the Guard (or Guard Mounting) is the ceremony where there is a change of shifts from the ‘old guard’ (the current soldiers guarding Buckingham Palace) to the ‘new guard’ on the forecourt of the palace.

This is the formal handover of responsibilities and ceremonial passing over of the keys to the palace.


Fun Facts About Buckingham Palace

fun facts icon

  • When the Queen is in residence it is indicated by the Royal Standard flag flying above the palace. The building hosts a variety of functions from state banquets and investitures to garden parties and audiences with Her Majesty and the Royal family.
  • The palace gardens cover 39 acres and, aside from the lawns and surrounding foliage and trees, there is also a 3-acre lake, helipad and tennis courts contained.
  • Three garden parties are hosted by the Queen at the palace every May. People are invited, normally in recognition of a public service they have performed, to enjoy the grounds, eat, drink and potentially meet the Queen herself at these functions.
  • The palace was hit directly by bombs nine times during World War II with a number of other bombs affecting the grounds.
  • There are 1514 doors and 760 windows in the palace which are cleaned every six weeks!

Some of the employees of the palace have unusual jobs....

  • Royal Horological Conservators - With an enormous collection of over 350 clocks and watches (along with hundreds of other instruments such as barometers and thermometers) in the palace there are two horological  conservators employed by the Queen. Essentially their job is to wind all the clocks and make sure they are all working correctly!
  • Keeper of the Queen’s stamps - The Queen’s father, George V, was a keen philatelist (or stamp collector) and she still has his collection which requires someone to look after it. The keeper also searches for additions to the collection and travels all over the world to look for new and unusual inclusions.

Buckingham Palace Visitor Information

visitor infoThe palace is closed to the public apart from specific parts at specified times of the year. Tickets for all available places to visit can be found to pre-book at www.rct.uk

Visiting The State Rooms

The 19 State rooms at the palace are open for approximately 10 weeks of the year in the summer between July and September with timed admission tickets.

The tour takes between 2-3 hours to complete and there is no photography allowed inside - photographs and filming can be done once visitors are in the garden at the end of the tour.

  • Pushchairs are not allowed in the State rooms however complimentary baby carriers and hip seats can be borrowed.
  • An audio tour is provided around the rooms with an introduction by HRH Prince Charles and culminates in the gardens.
  • Airport style security checks are carried out upon arrival.
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities are available at the end of the tour in the garden.
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed inside the State rooms.
  • The Garden shop is open to purchase gifts and memorabilia.

Mobility access - the State rooms are fully accessible however step-free access must be booked prior to the visit. Visitor’s own wheelchairs and scooters may be used but their dimensions must fall within those of the lifts. Manual wheelchairs and rollators (wheeled walking aids with a seat) are available to borrow free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Assistance dogs are welcome.

For a more in-depth tour of the gardens, an add-on ticket of Garden Highlights can be added to the State room tour.

Prices for the State room tour only start at £14.50 for under 17s (children under 5 go free) and disabled guests, £24 for students and over 60s, £26.50 for adults and £67.50 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 under 17s).

Visiting The Royal Mews

The tour of the Mews itself allows visitors to view the State coaches, livery worn by the Queen’s coachmen and even see a horse or two if lucky enough!

  • The Royal Mews is closed during selected dates in November and December and during State visits and royal events.
  • Airport style security checks are carried out upon arrival.
  • A complimentary multimedia guide is provided which lasts around 45 minutes.
  • Photography and filming is permitted in the Mews.
  • Pushchairs are allowed and toilets and baby changing facilities are available.
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed inside the Mews.
  • The Royal Mews shop is open to purchase gifts and memorabilia.

Mobility access - the Royal Mews is level access but some floors are cobbled/uneven and care should be taken. Manual wheelchairs and rollators (wheeled walking aids with a seat) are available to borrow free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Mobility scooters are allowed as are assistance dogs.

Prices for the Royal Mews start from £7.50 for under 17s (under 5s are free) and disabled guests, £11.80 for over 60s and students, £13 for adults and £33.50 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 under 17s).

Visiting The Queen’s Gallery

  • The gallery is normally closed on a Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Airport style security checks are carried out upon arrival.
  • A complimentary multimedia guide is provided which lasts approximately 1 hour.
  • Photography and filming is permitted in the Gallery.
  • Pushchairs are allowed in the Gallery apart from at very busy times when they will need to be folded up and left in the designated area. Complimentary baby carriers and hip seats can be borrowed in these instances.
  • Toilets and baby changing facilities are available.
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed inside the Gallery.
  • The Queen’s Gallery shop is open to purchase gifts and memorabilia.

Mobility access - the Queen’s gallery is fully accessible via a lift and ramps. Visitors own wheelchairs and scooters may be used but their dimensions must fall within those of the lift. Manual wheelchairs and rollators (wheeled walking aids with a seat) are available to borrow free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Assistance dogs are welcome.

Prices for the gallery only, start at £8 for under 17s and disabled guests, £12 for students, £14.50 for Over 60s and £16 for adults.

A combined ticket for the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery can be purchased. Prices from £12.80 for under 17s and disabled guests, £20.30 for students, £21.60 for over 60s, £23.80 for adults and £60.40 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 under 17s).

Royal Day Out tickets are classed as the best value for visiting Buckingham Palace as they provide access to the State rooms, Royal Mews and The Queens Gallery.

Prices start from £26.50 for under 17s and disabled guests, £42 for students, £44.50 for over 60s, £49 for adults and £124.50 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 under 17s).

How To See The Changing of the Guard

From August to May, the Changing of the Guard occurs on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and in June and July, daily.

The ceremony starts at 10:45am and the actual changeover happens at 11am every day apart from Sunday when it’s earlier at 10am.

It is free to spectate however prime viewing spots get taken quickly so you may need an early start to secure an ideal location.


Location

location iconBuckingham Palace is located in the City of Westminster in London, UK.

More specifically, it is found at the convergence of The Mall, Constitution Hill and Spur Road. St James Park lies to the east and Green Park to the north.

How To Get There

By Tube - The nearest Underground Tube stations to access the palace are Victoria (10mins - District, Circle and Victoria lines), Green Park (15mins - Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines), St James Park (9mins - District and Circle lines) and Hyde Park Corner (10mins - Piccadilly line).

By Rail - The nearest national railway station is London Victoria (12 mins).

By Bus - A variety of bus lines pass close to the palace - 3, 6, 9, 16, 24, 44, 52 and 185. A number of tour bus operators also have stops close to the palace.

Driving in central London is not recommended due to lack of, and price of, parking and also due to the congestion charge which applies to vehicles entering this central zone.


Where To Stay

where to stay iconDue to the location of the Palace there are numerous options for accommodation in the central London vicinity.

From hostels and budget hotel options all the way through to five star luxury, there are many places to stay.


Other Things To Do Nearby

things to do near Buckingham PalaceCentral London, by its nature as a capital city, has many attractions to see and things to do. Just a few of the many options available in the vicinity of the Palace are:


Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ iconWant to know more about Buckingham Palace? We have the answers...

Can tourists go inside Buckingham Palace?

Yes, tourists are able to go inside Buckingham Palace but access is for certain areas and only at particular times of the year.

How much does it cost to visit Buckingham Palace?

There is a cost to visit Buckingham Palace and the exact amount is dependent on which part you visit.

If you have limited time or are only interested in specific areas of the palace, it is possible to buy individual tickets for the State Room Tour, Royal Mews or the Gallery.

However, the Royal Day Out tickets represent the best value, as they give you access to all three individual tours.

Can you take photos inside Buckingham Palace?

Photographs can only be taken in certain parts of Buckingham Palace - they can be taken in the Royal Mews, The Queen’s Gallery and in the gardens. Unfortunately, photography and filming are not allowed in the State rooms.

Can you smoke in Buckingham Palace?

Smoking is not permitted in any public area of Buckingham Palace or it’s grounds.

How long is the Buckingham Palace tour?

The tour of the State rooms at Buckingham Palace is approximately 2-3 hours long. Visiting the Royal Mews and Queen’s Gallery allows you to spend as much or as little time as you require within the opening hours.

What should I wear for the Buckingham Palace tour?

There is no formal dress code for visiting Buckingham Palace however, when considering what to wear for the tour, comfortable shoes are a must due to the amount of walking!

How do you get invited to Buckingham Palace?

To get an invite to Buckingham Palace to attend one of Her Majesty’s garden parties, you must be nominated, generally for having performed some form of public service.

Are there tunnels under Buckingham Palace?

There are rumours of tunnels underneath Buckingham Palace and although one such rumour was that King George VI and the Queen Mother met a man living in them when they ventured into these tunnels, there has not been any official confirmation. There is known to be an underground river (River Tyburn) under the palace, which is one of a number under the capital city.

There are however secret tunnels and passageways within the palace itself and the Queen uses these to get from one part to another without having to bump into people unexpectedly!

Does the tube go under Buckingham Palace?

There are rumours that there is a tube station specifically for Buckingham Palace located under it but there has never been any official confirmation of such. There are no tube lines that pass under the palace, which was a deliberate decision, although the Victoria line passes very close (under Queen Victoria’s statue at the front of the palace)

How many bedrooms does Buckingham Palace have?

Buckingham Palace has 52 Royal and guest bedrooms along with 188 staff bedrooms.

Is there a swimming pool in Buckingham Palace?

There is a swimming pool at Buckingham Palace located in the north-west pavilion. This was converted in 1938.

Is there a chapel in Buckingham Palace?

Buckingham Palace did once have a chapel, however it was hit directly by a bomb in 1940 during the second World War and is now incorporated into the Queen’s Gallery.

Who owned Buckingham Palace first?

Buckingham Palace was originally owned first by the Duke of Buckingham who had it built as a large townhouse in 1703.

Who has lived in Buckingham Palace?

The Duke of Buckingham first lived at Buckingham Palace, followed by Queen Charlotte (bought for her by the then King, George III). Although many monarchs after him were involved in the building of the palace to how we see it today, Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live there as a primary residence and she was then followed by King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI and lastly by the current Queen, Elizabeth II.

Who is guarding Buckingham Palace?

The Queen’s Guards that guard Buckingham Palace consist of a number of regiments which make up the Foot Guards and Horse Guards. These regiments get called to perform this special duty as they would any other deployment and are operational soldiers.

How long do the Queen's Guards stand for?

The Queen’s Guards stand to perform their sentry duties for two hour time periods and then have four hours off. During their time on duty they march for a limited number of steps in front of their post every ten minutes.

What are the royal guards not allowed to do?

There are protocols for the behaviour that is expected from the Queen’s Guard (or Royal Guards) when they are on duty. In keeping with being professional whilst working, it is frowned upon to laugh and smile and they won’t talk to visitors around them. If anyone gets too close or begins to harass them, they will give you a number of verbal warnings and in extreme circumstances, if required, their weapons are for use. These guards are active, trained soldiers.

What days are the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace?

From August to May the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace occurs on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and in June and July, daily.

The ceremony starts at 10:45am and the actual changeover happens at 11am every day apart from Sunday when it’s earlier at 10am.

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