Buckingham Palace is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II and is an iconic building that offers a historic art collection, beautiful gardens and perhaps the most majestic staircase in the world.
- Admire the bronze and marble Grand Staircase which is lined with portraits of members of the royal family.
- Visit the State Dining Room where her majesty entertains heads of state and VIPs from around the world and her priceless collection of Sevres porcelain.
- Tour the historic Picture Gallery, a 50 m long room designed by John Nash and filled with notable works from Old Masters such as Rembrandt, Van Dyck(s), and Canaletto.
What to see and do
A tour of Buckingham Palace takes approximately two hours. During your visit, you will get the chance to glimpse inside one of the most famous buildings in the world.
You can only visit the staterooms of Buckingham Palace from July to September when the Queen is not in residence. You will find helpful and knowledgeable guides in each room who are on hand to answer questions.
The Grand Staircase
The tour begins with The Grand Staircase which is a double staircase in bronze and Carrara marble designed in the 19th century by architect John Nash. This is considered one of the highlights of the tour and features an impressive double balustrade and an elaborate design of bronze oak, laurel and acanthus leaves.
The Ballroom is the grandest room in the palace, and is large enough to accommodate 35 double-decker buses! The ballroom is used for official ceremonies, investitures and state dinners. It was here that President Barrack Obama was received in May 2011.
The White Drawing Room
The White Drawing Room is a royal reception hall used by the Queen and members of the royal family on official occasions. It was the location of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding photos. It is widely regarded as the grandest of all the staterooms and, although the walls are white, the ornate gold decor makes it glimmer with opulence.
The Throne Room
An ancient symbol of the monarchy, the throne room is the room most anticipated by visitors. No other room summons up the history, glamour and pageantry of the monarchy. The throne room is where the Queen formally receives guests at investiture ceremonies, as well as personal special occasions.
Antiques, Art and Temporary Exhibitions
A visit to the Queen’s official residence is a unique opportunity to admire the most exquisite English and French antique furniture, a remarkable collection of Sèvres porcelain and priceless works of art by great masters such as Rembrandt, Poussin and Rubens.
Each year Buckingham Palace presents a temporary exhibition with a different theme. In 2016, for example, The Queen’s Wardrobe’s Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style exhibit featured the Queen’s wardrobe worn throughout her reign and made by British designers.
The tour of the Palace ends with a stroll through the Queen’s private gardens which contain a remarkable variety of flora and fauna – 350 species of wildflowers and numerous species of birds and butterflies inhabit this 160-hectare habitat.
Did you know: (5 interesting facts!)
- The palace was actually built for a duke – the Duke of Buckingham – rather than a king or queen.
- In 1838, Edward Jones, a teenager, was arrested for breaking into Buckingham Palace and attempting to steal Queen Victoria’s underwear!
- Buckingham Palace was bombed nine times during the Second World War.
- If the Royal Standard flag is flying, it means the Queen is at home. If the Union Jack is flying, Her Majesty is staying elsewhere.
- Every year, the Queen hosts a garden party during which guests consume over 20,000 sandwiches.
- 1703 – John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham, built Buckingham House.
- 1820 – 30s – George IV began to convert the house into a place with the assistance of famous architect John Nash.
- 1837 – Buckingham Palace became the official royal residence of Queen Victoria.
- 1845 – Queen Victoria commissioned an additional East Wing, a project which included the famous Central Balcony.
Facilities and accessibility
Multimedia guides are available in many languages, as well as a tour for blind people and a tour for deaf visitors. The audio tour is introduced by HRH Prince Charles.
The guided tours of Buckingham Palace are only available during the summer months, although the Changing of the Guard can be observed for free outside the gates all year round.
There are no formal dress code requirements for a visit to the Palace, although visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes as there is a half-mile walk from the Palace to the gardens.
There is a gift shop at Buckingham Palace which sells a range of souvenirs, postcards and other items.
Arrangements can be made to accommodate disabled visitors although contacting the Specialist Team before booking tickets is recommended.
Allow two to two and a half hours for the duration of your trip to Buckingham Palace.