Hotels in the area :
Address: Buckingham Palace Road, SW1
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7321 2233. Fax: (+44) (0)20 7930 9625
Rail: Victoria. Tube: St James's Park, Green Park, Victoria
DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY
As everybody knows, Buckingham Palace is the palace and London residence of the British sovereign.
The palace takes its name from the house built around 1705 for John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham. It was bought in 1762 by George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and became known as the queen's house. By order of George IV, John Nash initiated the conversion of the house into a palace in the 1820s. Nash also reshaped the Buckingham Palace Gardens and designed the Marble Arch entryway, which was later removed (1851) to the northeast corner of Hyde Park.
The Mall front, or Fore Court (east side), was expanded in 1847 by Edward Blore and redesigned in 1913 by Sir Aston Webb as a background for the Queen Victoria Memorial statue. Nash's garden front (west side) remains virtually unchanged.
Victoria was the first sovereign to live there (from 1837). Within the palace the Queen's Gallery exhibits works from the royal art collection, including Fabergé eggs and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci.
Guard Mounting, the ceremony of changing the guard, takes place regularly (generally every morning from April to early August and every other morning thereafter), but the royal standard is flown over the palace only when the sovereign is in residence.
Traditionally closed to the public, the State Rooms of the palace were opened to tourists during the summer months in the mid-1990s in order to finance repairs to Windsor Castle, which was damaged by fire in 1992.
Leading northeast from the palace and the Queen Victoria Memorial, the straight avenue of the Mall divides St. James's Park from Green Park, skirts the grounds of St. James's Palace, and eventually reaches the Admiralty Arch, gateway to Charing Cross.
TOURS & PRACTICALITIES
Visitors may tour the 19 State Rooms, including the Throne Room, Picture Gallery and Ballroom, the largest room in Buckingham Palace used for investitures and State banquets. All the State rooms are opulently decorated with some of the finest pictures, tapestries and works of art from the Royal Collection. The extended visitor route includes a 450 metre walk through the south side of the Palace garden.
Visit Length: 2 hrs 30 mins.
Opening times: Open Aug-Sep, daily, 9.30am-4.30pm (last admission 4.15pm).
Advance tickets available from Visitor Office on +44 (0)20 7321 2233, or from Ticket Office in Green Park which will be open.
THE QUEEN'S GALLERY
Address: Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7766 7301. Fax (+44) (0)20 7930 9625
Open daily 10am - 5.30pm. Last admission 4.30pm.
The Queen's Gallery operates a timed-ticket system, with admission every 15 minutes throughout the day
Closed: 25 and 26 December
Normal Entry Price: Adult £8.00 Child £4.00
The Queen's Gallery is a part of Buckingham Palace where exhibitions are held. It is a permanent space dedicated to changing exhibitions of items from the Royal Collection, the wide-ranging collection of art and treasures held in trust by The Queen for the Nation.
Built in 1962 on the west front of Buckingham Palace from the bomb-damaged ruins of the former private chapel, the Gallery, recently redeveloped, was reopened by The Queen on 21 May 2002. It is now open to the public every day.
The ever changing exhibitions have included Treasures from the Royal Collection, gathering some of the greatest works of art acquired by kings and queens over 500 years; works by Leonardo, Caravaggio, Van Dyck and Canaletto; photographs from the Royal Photograph Collection; postage stamps from the Royal Philatelic Collection; Fabergé items; furniture, sculpture and ceramics, jewellery, silver and gold.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD at Buckingham Palace
Address: Buckingham Palace Road, SW1
Phone: (+44) (0)891 505452
Hours: 11.30am daily April-July, alternate days rest of the year
FREE to ALL
The Changing of the Guard Ceremony is on the must-see list of every visitor to London, an event that any self-respecting tourist doesn't wish to miss. The Queen's Guard is changed at 11.30am inside the gates of Buckingham Palace and can be viewed from outside.
The 40-minute ceremony takes place daily between April and July and on alternate days for the remainder of the year.
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is the greatest display of pageantry in London and one of the most famous ceremonies in the world. The number of tourists who gather here early in the morning to find a good vantage point is very high, and there isn't much point in attending if you can't arrive early enough to get a good spot. Somebody will advise you to stand in front of the Victoria Memorial, facing the palace, but from that place you'll see hardly more than the arrival of the New Guard and the band. To see all that is happening, stand in front of the Palace railings, near the central entrance. You might be tempted to climb on some part of the Victoria Memorial to get a better view, but it is not allowed and if you did you would be asked to get down.
Expect it to be crowded, especially in summer and tourist season. You'll find it hard to take photos in the middle of that crowd moving all over the place around you to get a better view. Be prepared to wait a long time: bring something to keep you occupied, like a book, and something to sit on. If you move from the spot that you have struggled to conquer, somebody must hold it for you or you'll lose it. Don't arrange to meet someone there, and if you lose somebody you have no chance of finding them. Anyway, the event is worth the effort because it's interesting and exciting.
A similar ceremony not to miss is the changing of the Queen's Life Guard at Horse Guards, Whitehall, which offers a closer look at the pageantry and takes place daily throughout the year at 11am Monday to Saturday and 10am on Sundays.
Also interesting to see is the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London, held every evening from 9.50pm to 10pm, during which all the Tower's gates are locked by the Chief Yeoman Warder.
Website: Buckingham Palace