Buckingham Palace in London, UK
Sprawling the lush area of the City of Westminster, majestically set amongst the trees and shrubs of St James Park in the east and Green Park in the north, Buckingham Palace takes pride of place as one of the most popular and well recognised tourist attractions in London, if not the world.
Buckingham Palace, the official London office and residence of the British Monarch, has for a long time captivated visitors from around the world, all eager to get a first class ticket into the world of the 'blue-bloods'. Buckingham Palace is also the official setting from state occasions and royal hospitality, and has been a common meeting point for the British people, whether in celebration or in times of crisis.
Buckingham Palace was originally known as Buckingham House, and was built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1702. In 1761 it was acquired by George III as a private residence. It was renamed in 1774 as 'The Queen's House', as it was now resided by Queen Charlotte. It grew over the next 75 years, with architects John Nash and Edward Blore doing most of the work on this world famous landmark.
Buckingham Palace was finally declared the official royal palace of the British Monarch in 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria. The last renovations to the Palace were made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Even seven bombings during World War II only managed to destroy the Palace chapel. The Queen's Gallery was soon built on the site of the chapel and was opened to the public in 1962. Here, exquisite works of art from the Royal Collection are exhibited.
The Buckingham Palace Garden is known as the largest private garden in London, originally landscaped by Capability Brown, and later redesigned by William Townsend Aiton of Kew Gardens, along with John Nash. The large artificial lake which adorns the garden was completed in 1828 and is supplied with water from the Serpentine - a river running through Hyde Park.
Buckingham Palace is accessible to the public at certain times during the year. The State Rooms of the Palace are open during the Annual Summer Opening, which happens in August and September. These rooms are beautiful and lavish, with splendid artworks from the Royal Collection adorning the walls. Paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeet, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude, while sculptures from Canova and Chantrey can all be found here.
Buckingham Palace is without a doubt a leading tourist destination. A popular attraction is the Changing of the Guard, an event which happens in the forecourt of the Palace at around 11am British time.
For years the Palace has been used by the Queen and members of the royal family for official and state entertaining. Today Buckingham Palace is used as the home of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, as well as the administrative work of the monarchy. Being one of the most familiar buildings in the world, the Palace receives around 50 000 guests a year for banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and royal garden parties.
Buckingham Palace was first opened to the public in 1993, although it is still the official residence of the Queen. So how do you know if the Queen is home? Look at the flagpole on top of the Palace, if the flag is flying, then the Queen is at home.