BUCKINGHAM PALACE OPENS ITS DOORS FOR SUMMER
At Royal Garden Hotel we hold a special place in our hearts for the Windsors. After all, Harry, Meghan, Kate, William and their brood are our neighbours here in Kensington and there is a certain amount of magic associated with the royal family.
There is one residence, however, that holds a greater allure for those holidaying in London than any other. It is, of course, Buckingham Palace, and the Queen’s home in the capital has thrown open its doors for the summer season.
HISTORY OF BUCKINGHAM PALACE
The association of Buckingham Palace with the royals began in 1761 when King George III bought it as a family home with his wife Queen Charlotte. Back then it was called Buckingham House and was chosen for its proximity to St James’s Palace, where they were often required to attend court functions.
When George IV came to the throne in 1820, he decided to reconstruct the house and under the instruction of architect John Nash, it was turned into a palace. This meant the property being reimagined in the French neoclassical style, which was fashionable at the time, and the main block being doubled in size.
It wasn’t until Queen Victoria moved into the palace in 1837 that it became the official royal residence of a monarch. She had a fourth wing built, as there were no nurseries at her disposal and too few bedrooms to house guests.
Under King Edward VII, a white and gold colour scheme was introduced to many of the palace’s interiors. His successor, King George V, paid more attention to the exterior of the building, which he had refaced in the distinctive Portland stone that can be seen to this day.
Upon the death of her father, Queen Elizabeth II became monarch and moved into Buckingham Palace with the Duke of Edinburgh. The property has been their main residence ever since and is at the heart of royal hospitality and state occasions, becoming iconic throughout the world.
VISIT THE STATE ROOMS
There are no fewer than 19 state rooms at Buckingham Palace and each one has its own specific function. Highlights include the White Drawing Room, which is particularly opulent, and is where the family gather before official events.
Red dominates the Throne Room, which contains the chairs sat on by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at her coronation, as well as those used in the ceremonies of her predecessors. Meanwhile, it is not difficult to imagine the grand occasions that have been staged in the sumptuous Ballroom, the biggest of the state rooms.
With so many walls to fill, it’s not surprising that Buckingham Palace is home to some incredible portraits and paintings. Many of them are housed within the Picture Gallery, but what is hanging there changes on a regular basis. From Flemish masters to Italian legends, it is worth having a good look at the royal collection.
CELEBRATING PRINCE CHARLES’ 70TH BIRTHDAY
This summer, there is an extra special reason to visit Buckingham Palace, as tours include the Prince and Patron exhibition. This display has been curated to mark the Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday and includes pieces selected by him. Do not miss The Tribuna of the Uffizi by Johan Joseph Zoffany or the cloak worn by Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
Be sure to plan your visit to Buckingham Palace for before 30 September, when the summer season ends. Just don’t expect to bump into Her Majesty; the palace is open while she is away for her annual trip to Balmoral.
Photo credit: Maui01 via iStock