Visiting Buckingham Palace

London, U.K.

Buckingham Palace from the garden

When I write 'Visiting Buckingham Palace' I'll just clarify that I didn't get a personal invitation to pop in for a visit! Rather, last autumn I saw that the palace was still open for tours during the time I was in London. I had been through the State rooms at the palace before, but thought it was a good opportunity to go again. It turned out the day I decided to go was the last day the palace was open for tours in 2017, it was a bit crowded!

None the less I did manage to get a ticket to go through, the tickets are timed and even on a very busy day, I was able to purchase a ticket and I think the wait for my time slot was 45 minutes. The entrance to the palace isn't through the famous front gates but instead at the side, there's a security check and then you go through to the courtyard. The famous front facade of Buckingham Palace was built by Queen Victoria to provide more room for her large family, the old palace was an open square shape with one side missing. The new facade closed the missing side and so there's a courtyard inside the 4 wings of the palace. The public doesn't go into the courtyard but around it and then enters the State Rooms in the older part of the palace.

The famous front wing of the palace built for Queen Victoria's large family, shown here set up for the Trooping of the Colour, held in June.

Unfortunately taking photos wasn't permitted, not even of the courtyard so I don't have any. I'm guessing the prohibition on taking photos has to do with copyright and with the fact that it slows down the large crowds of people going through.

Each year a special display is presented in the State Rooms, last year's one was on the various gifts the Queen has been presented with over the years. It was divided into regions and the gifts on display were spread through the rooms. The 2018 display is going to focus on the Prince of Wales as it's his 70th birthday this year.

The State Rooms are very impressive and I really like being able to see the originals of paintings that I've seen in books. I had a nice little connection with Osborne House as I'd been there and see the copy of the painting of the young Queen Victoria and her children and then saw the original in Buckingham Palace.

As you exit the State Rooms you go down into the gardens where the toilets and a large gift shop are located.

The public comes down the same steps as the royals descend when they arrive at one of the Queen's Garden Parties.

The lake in the palace gardens with the palace in the distance.

Once out of the gift shop the path meanders through the gardens to the exit, it's possible to get a feel for the size and peacefulness of these walled gardens in the centre of London.

The gardens in Autumn.

During my wait time to get into the palace I went for a walk around, the area in front of the palace is dominated by the Victoria Memorial, built by King Edward VII for his mother.

Queen Victoria on her memorial.

St. James's Park with the palace just peeking out in the distance, St. James's is my favourite London park. It doesn't have the rushed feel about it as some of the other parks, people sit on the benches, watch the ducks, you can hear the bands playing for the changing of the guard at the palace. St. James's Park just has a nice relaxed atmosphere about it.

Just like everybody else on their first trip to London, I have been to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the palace. I went years ago and it was winter time so was disappointed that the soldiers were wearing heavy blue coats instead of the iconic red tunics I was expecting! I've also been to watch the royal depart for the Trooping of the Colour.

The first time I found a spot on The Mall and then was annoyed because the Queen Victoria Memorial obscured the view of the Buckingham Palace balcony! I wanted to play 'Name that royal'! The second time I went I found a spot in the gardens by Green Park, great view of the balcony, but it turned out a long way away from the road where all the action was! 

I wasn't this close, just very zoomed in on my camera!

This scene made me laugh, the people were standing in what they must have thought was a great spot, right infront of the palace. Then the band came out, mounted on their horses and went and placed themselves right infront of these people so their great view was blocked! Having experimented my recommendation would be to find a place on The Mall. The whole parade down to Horseguards begins at 10am for the Trooping ceremony at 11am. The spectators just wait and are entertained by roadsweepers cleaning up the horse poo! Then the royals and the soldiers parade back to the palace and at 1pm there's a flypast from the RAF. 

The Trooping of the Colour generally is the second Sunday in June. In 2018, the Summer Tours of Buckingham Palace are from July 21st to September 30th.