London’s most famous residence, and one of its best recognized landmarks, Buckingham Palace was built as a town house for the first Duke of Buckingham in 1705. Between 1824 and 1831, George IV commissioned John Nash to extend the house into a substantial palace, which was first occupied by Queen Victoria in 1837. The extensive front of the building was completed by Sir Aston Webb in 1913. The Palace is now home to the present Queen and the State Rooms are open to the public during summer. Many royal parks and gardens in London are also accessible to the public .

State Apartments

  • Open Aug–Sep: 9:45am–6pm daily (last adm 3:45pm).

  • Admission: adults £16.50; students and over 60s £15; under 17s £9.50; family ticket £44; under 5s free

Royal Mews

  • 020 7766 7302

  • Open Apr–Oct: 11am–4pm daily (last adm 3:15pm).

  • Admission: adults £7.50; students and over 60s £6.75; under 17s £4.80; under 5s free

Queen’s Gallery

  • 020 7766 7301

  • Open 10am–5:30pm (last adm 4:30pm)

Palace Life

The official business of the monarchy takes place in the Palace, which has a staff of around 300. The Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of York, Prince Edward and the Princess Royal all have offices here. The most senior member of the Royal Household is the Lord Chamberlain. The Master of the Household and 200 domestic staff organize many functions in the Palace every year, including around 25 Investitures for recipients of awards which are given by The Queen.

Decorative lock on Palace gates

Victoria Monument

Time your visit to coincide with the Changing of the Guard.

Top 10 Highlights
  1. Changing of the Guard

    The Palace guards, in their familiar red tunics and tall bearskin hats, are changed at 11am each morning (10am on Sundays, and alternate days in winter). The guards march to the Palace from the nearby Wellington Barracks.

  2. The Balcony

    On special occasions, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family step on to the Palace balcony to wave to the crowds gathered below.

  3. Queen’s Gallery

    The gallery hosts a changing programme of exhibitions of the Royal Collection’s masterpieces, including works by artists such as Johannes Vermeer and Leonardo da Vinci.

  4. Grand Staircase

    The Ambassadors’ Entrance leads into the Grand Hall. From here the magnificent Grand Staircase, with gilded balustrades, rises to the first floor where the State Rooms are found.

  5. Throne Room

    This houses the thrones of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip used for the coronation. Designed by John Nash, the room has a highly ornamented ceiling and magnificent chandeliers.

  6. Picture Gallery

    The largest room in the Palace has a barrel-vaulted glass ceiling and contains a number of paintings from the Royal Collection, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck.

  7. State Ballroom

    Banquets for visiting heads of state are held here. The most glittering social event of the year is in November, when 1,200 members of the Diplomatic Corps arrive in full court dress.

  8. Royal Mews

    Caring for 34 horses, including the Windsor Greys, which pull the royal coach on state occasions, these are the finest working stables in Britain. The collection of coaches, landaus and carriages includes the magnificent Gold State Coach, which was built in c.1760.

  9. Palace Garden

    The extensive Palace garden is an oasis for wildlife and includes a four-acre lake. There are at least three Royal garden parties each year, to which over 30,000 people attend.

  10. Brougham

    Every day a horse-drawn Brougham carriage sets out to collect and deliver royal packages around London, including the Palace’s weekly copy of Country Life.

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