Historical Residence in London

Buckingham Palace

Explore Buckingham Palace's State Rooms, witness the Changing of the Guard, and view royal art collections in London's historic royal residence.

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Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and acquired by King George III in 1761. It has been the official residence of the monarchy since Queen Victoria's accession in 1837. The palace is often at the center of state occasions and royal hospitality, famous for its State Rooms and the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Visitors can explore parts of the palace during certain times of the year, gaining insight into the royal lifestyle and the rich history contained within its walls.

The Changing of the Guard

One of the most iconic attractions at Buckingham Palace is the Changing of the Guard, a formal ceremony in which the old guard hands over the responsibility of protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James's Palace to the new guard. This event is free to watch and occurs on certain days at 11:00 am, but it's advisable to check the schedule in advance as it can change. Visitors should arrive early to secure a good viewing spot and witness the precise military tradition accompanied by music.

The State Rooms

During the summer months, when the Queen is not in residence usually between July and October, visitors have the opportunity to tour the State Rooms. These opulent rooms are where the Queen and members of the Royal Family receive and entertain their guests on state, ceremonial, and official occasions. Highlights include the Throne Room, the Picture Gallery, and the Ballroom. Each room is rich in history and displays works of art from the Royal Collection.

The Royal Collection and Art Exhibitions

The Royal Collection, held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation, contains thousands of paintings, furniture, tapestries, photographs, and other objects. Visitors can marvel at masterpieces by artists like Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, and Vermeer. The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace hosts a program of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection throughout the year.

The Palace Gardens

Adjacent to the palace is the vast Buckingham Palace Garden, which provides a peaceful escape from London's busy streets. While much of the garden is not open to the public, visitors can get a glimpse of the well-tended lawns and picturesque flower beds during a visit to the State Rooms, as part of a Garden Highlights Tour, or at one of the garden parties if lucky enough to be invited.

Visiting Guidelines

Tickets for Buckingham Palace are released in waves and can be booked in advance online, ensuring entry. The cost varies depending on whether you choose to visit just The State Rooms or combine it with a visit to The Royal Mews or The Queen's Gallery. Concession tickets are available for students, disabled visitors, and those over 60. It's advisable to allocate at least 2-3 hours for a visit to fully appreciate all that is on offer.

Nearby Attractions

After touring Buckingham Palace, there are several nearby attractions that can easily be combined with a visit. Stroll through St. James's Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks, or explore historical landmarks such as Westminster Abbey and The Houses of Parliament which are only a short walk away.

Accessibility and Visitor Facilities

The palace and its attractions are wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators available where necessary. Visitors will find restrooms and baby care facilities onsite. To ensure safety and security, certain items are not allowed into the palace, and there are airport-style security checks at entry points. For those who need it, audio guides are available in multiple languages to enhance the visit.

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