Buckingham Palace is one of the world's most recognisable landmarks - known across the globe for it's glamour and history.
- Buckingham Palace is one of London’s most recognised buildings.
- But it’s not just for visitors – the royals actually live there too.
- This follows the royal news that the Queen is isolating in Windsor Castle – take a look inside here.
And it’s not just an attraction – it’s also home to many members of the royal family.
But what is Buckingham Palace like?
With 775 rooms and the biggest private garden in the capital, there’s undeniably ample space for all kinds of usage.
Which explains why many of the royals actually hold private apartments there, using the palace as their London base.
Where is Buckingham Palace?
It is located in the City of Westminster, in the UK’s capital city.
Sat neatly between Mayfair and Belgravia, it’s situated in one of the most expensive parts of London.
A brief history of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace existed originally as Buckingham House, bought in 1761 by George III, for his wife Queen Charlotte.
George bought it to exist as a ‘comfortable family home’ for he and his family, close to St. James’s Palace, which was were many state functions were held. It’s an interesting history, given that the two almost work in an opposite way today!
It was only in 1826, at the request of the now-owner King George VI, that the house was changed into a palace by architect John Nash. Many of the changes then still remain now. By 1829, renovation costs spiralled to nearly half a million pounds (a lot of money now, but even more then) – and Nash was let go from the job due to the huge expense.
Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to take up residence there in 1837, and was even the first British monarch to leave from Buckingham Palace for her coronation, a tradition Queen Elizabeth II also upheld.
Which members of the family live at Buckingham Palace?
Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex
Prince Edward and wife Sophie are one royal couple who also hold private apartments at the palace.
However, much like the rest of the family, the Earl and Countess, along with their children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, do not reside at the palace full-time, and instead handily use it as their London residence.
Sophie and Edward regularly undertake royal duties in the capital, so the pair understandably spend a lot of time at their apartments there. The couple also have offices where they conduct any royal business – and where any of their official staff work from too.
However, a recent announcement has revealed that the Wessex family have temporarily been required to move out of the palace. Buckingham Palace officials have revealed that essential maintence works are set to start on the royal building – primarily on the front-facing, East Wing, in April 2019.
While the work is ongoing, Prince Edward and Sophie’s accomodation and offices are relocating to St. James’s Palace – handily, just a two-minute drive away.
When Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex are not living at Buckingham Palace, they are at their private home, the royal residence of Bagshot Park in Surrey.
The impressive building, complete with 120 rooms, is just 11 miles away from the Queen’s home in Windsor Castle, and sits within 21 hectares of land. So we’re sure the couple will have plenty of room whilst Buckingham Palace is being refurbished!
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
In 1837, the lavish building became the official, principal home of the monarch. However, Buckingham Palace is not the Queen’s most-used home.
They spend most of their year either at Windsor Castle (just an hours drive from London), Balmoral, or Sandringham.
Instead, the monarch and her husband often spend their working weeks at the palace, retreating to their apartments there when they are required for work in London.
The Duke of Edinburgh visits the palace far less regularly now that he has retired from public duties – but the Queen is there almost weekly for her various engagements.
Like the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne also has a series of offices at Buckingham Palace. And she too will have to move her work space out of the residence while the maintenance works are finished.
However, in regard to Princess Anne’s actual home, she also has a private residence she can retreat to.
The Princess Royal lives for much of the year at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, a privately-owned Grade II listed building.
The Duke of York
Prince Andrew is the final, senior member of the royal family to call the palace home. Just like Sophie and Prince Edward, the Duke has private apartments at Buckingham Palace, which he uses when he is based in London for work or personal purposes.
Buckingham Palace is also the workplace of 800 people – including the royal’s personal staff, caretakers, gardeners, chefs, and plenty more.
Who owns Buckingham Palace then?
Although it was bought by one of the Queen’s ancestors, Buckingham Palace, as like all Royal Palaces, are owned by the Crown Estate, and so made available to the reigning monarch in the same way that 10 Downing Street is made available to the Prime Minister.
The Queen only actually personally owns two royal properties – Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House.
What is it like inside Buckingham Palace?
Inside Buckingham Palace, the London palace is every bit as palatial as you might expect, with lavish gold decor and plush furnishings.
The official State Rooms, used for welcoming overseas dignitaries or hosting state dinners, are chock full of chandeliers, deep red carpets, gold panelling and deep wood tables, cabinets and sideboards.
The palace is full of high ceilings and long, impressive staircases, and although the private rooms – where the likes of the Queen and Prince Philip live – have not been seen publicly, it’s likely that they have similar designs.
What are the Buckingham Palace grounds like?
The garden at the Queen’s home is the largest private garden in London, occupying 42 acres.
The expansive green space is full of varied and exotic plants and trees, many planted by foreign monarchs.
In fact, to mark National Gardening Week, the Royal Family posted a series of pictures on their Instagram – displaying the gorgeous flowers in bloom at the garden.
The gardens of the palace are in the summer, are used to host Garden Parties, in which the Queen invites members of the public to afternoon tea and meets with them, to thank them for their contributions to society.
And for even more reason to love the grounds, a new official Buckingham Palace gin has been created made with ingredients handpicked straight from the garden.
The new dry gin, which is made up of 12 botanicals, has a citrussy and herbal twist to it. Lemon, verbena, hawthorn berries and mulberry leaves are just some of the ingredients picked for the gin.
Enjoy it just like the Queen herself, by pouring a measure of gin in an ice-filled tumbler, before topping up with your favourite tonic and a slice of lemon.
The gin is available online at the Royal Collection Trust and at Royal Collection trusts shops at royal properties across the UK.
Is Buckingham Palace open to the public – can you visit it?
For 10 weeks during the summer, the impressive State Rooms at the palace, and part of the garden, are open for the public to visit.
Inside Buckingham Palace, visitors will get to see around six rooms on the tour, including the throne room, where the famous pictures of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge took their official photos following their wedding. They’ll also get to see many of the art that famously belongs to the palace.
You can also see a view of the Buckingham Palace lawn from the patio of the palace, and visitors walk through a part of the garden on their way out of the tour.
You can book tickets here. However, it’s important to note that all royal residences are closed to the public for the foreseeable, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
So will you be booking tickets inside Buckingham Palace for the future?