London‘s Buckingham Palace has been a regular feature of news bulletins during recent years. From the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, to the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, to July’s (long-awaited) birth of Prince George of Cambridge, the building’s famous façade has frequently appeared on television screens around the world. Yet for all the shots of the Palace’s exterior, there are few opportunities for non-royals to get a glimpse inside the historic building. Except, that is, during the current exhibition that ends on September 29. Here’s your guide on what to see during this special royal activity.
Stride through the State Rooms
Now accessible to the general public during this limited time, the Palace’s portfolio of 19 State Rooms is exquisite. Designed and built as the public spaces of Buckingham Palace, the varying rooms, which include the gilded Throne Room, the art-filled Picture Gallery and the grand White Drawing Room, are where the Queen receives, rewards, and entertains Her subjects and visiting dignitaries. The divine interiors, designed by architect John Nash (whose work also included Regent Street and Regent’s Park), are adorned with sparkling chandeliers, fine French furnishings, priceless porcelain and art masterpieces — all reflecting the distinctive 19th-century tastes of King George IV.
Enjoy the Exhibition
The State Rooms are reason enough to visit, but ticket holders in 2013 will also get to enjoy a special exhibition that marks the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. For the first time since the big day back in 1953, the exhibition will bring together a whole host of original items from the momentous occasion, including the Queen’s stunning Coronation Day outfit (white satin dress, purple silk-velvet robe, jewels). From the pre-planning and preparations to the post-coronation portraits, you can journey back in time to this grand spectacle — the first major event to be broadcast on BBC television in the United Kingdom.
Gaze at the Gardens
Any visit to the Palace ends with a short walk around the perimeter of the gardens, but if you wish to see them in greater detail, join the official 45-minute tour. Guides will highlight features including the beautiful herbaceous border, the wisteria-smothered summerhouse and rose garden, the vast Waterloo Vase, and the famous Palace tennis court, where King George VI and championship-winning tennis player Fred Perry once played a match in the 1930s. The 39-acre garden is chock-full of more than 350 types of wild flower and 200 trees, and a three-acre lake only adds to the idyllic setting.
How to Visit
The Palace has been open to the public since early August, and this extended opening means tickets are still available. Book online through the Royal Collection Trust website to visit in September, when the Palace is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Access to the State Rooms and coronation exhibition costs $30 for adults and $17 for those under 17, while adding the garden highlights tour increases the price to $43 for adults and $25 for folks under 17. You can also purchase a Royal Day Out pass, which includes the Palace visit plus the Royal Mews and The Queen’s Gallery — $52 for adults and $29 for kids. You will also find family and student/senior discounts, and those under 5 years of age go free.
Photo Courtesy of istock-janislacis