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Travel / Tours / London / Buckingham Palace
Visit Buckingham Palace in London
  The State Rooms
  The Queen's Gallery
  The Royal Mews
  Changing of the Guard
  Further information


Front of the palace
(view from the edge of Green Park)

If the Union Jack is flying
the Queen is not at the palace

This page provides information about Buckingham Palace in London. Visitors may find it useful to refer to this map of the area.

The building was a house owned by the Duke of Buckingham before it was bought by George the Third in 1761 as a private residence. His son George the Fourth employed the architect John Nash to convert it into a palace. The following kings and queens have lived here:

Ruling family King/Queen Dates
House of Hanover George III (3rd) 1760-1820
  George IV (4th) 1820-1830
  William IV (4th) 1830-1837
  Victoria 1837-1901
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Edward VII (7th)


House of Windsor

George V (5th) 1910-1936
  Edward VIII (8th) 1936-1936
  George VI (6th) 1936-1952
  Elizabeth II (2nd) 1952-

The main gates at the front (*)

The royal crest

Lion and

England (3 lions), Scotland
(single lion), Ireland (harp)

Saint George
killing the dragon

Queen Victoria Memorial

Queen Victoria

Buckingham Palace: Official Souvenir Guide
Author: Jonathan Marsden
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: October 2006
The Garden at Buckingham Palace: An Illustrated History
Authors: Jane Brown, Christopher Simon Sykes
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: July 2004
Buckingham Palace: Official Illustrated History
Author: John Martin Robinson
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: March 2001
100 Treasures of Buckingham Palace
Author: Tom Parsons
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: April 2006

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The 19 State Rooms are used for official occasions such as state banquets. You can visit these during a two-month period each summer when the Queen is away on her annual holiday in Scotland, usually between late July and late September (this is known as the Summer Opening of the State Rooms or the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace).

It is advisable to buy a ticket in advance, as there is only a limited number of places available. Tickets allow entry at a certain time. You should try to arrive at least 10 minutes before this time at the waiting area on Buckingham Gate (map). There are security checks, and you may be asked to leave your bag (you will be given a ticket which you can use to collect your bag later). You can choose a free audio guide: these are available in English (adult), English (family version), French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese or Chinese.

Note the following practical details:
- You are not allowed to take photographs inside the building
- You must switch off your mobile phone
- There are no toilets until the end of the tour
- The final exit for the tour is at a different place from the entrance
- You can go at your own pace, but most people spend about 2 hours here

The Royal Collection (c) 2003, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Throne Room (*)
The Royal Collection (c) 2003, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Photographer: Derry Moore)
The White Drawing Room (*)

Visitors enter through the Ambassadors' Entrance and go up the Grand Staircase (overlooking the Grand Hall) to reach the first floor. After passing through the small Guard Room you enter the main State Rooms: the Green Drawing Room, the Throne Room, the Picture Gallery, the Picture Gallery Lobby, the Silk Tapestry Room, the East Gallery, the Ball Supper Room, the Ballroom, the West Gallery, the State Dining Room, the Blue Drawing Room, the Music Room, and the White Drawing Room. After passing through the Ante-Room you go back down to the ground floor using the Ministers' Staircase. The route continues through the Marble Hall into the Bow Room. This leads out onto the garden terrace, where there is a shop selling exclusive Buckingham Palace souvenirs. Finally you follow a path through the gardens (these cover an area of 30 acres in total, including a large lake) until you reach the exit (Stonemason's Gate), which is on the road called Grosvenor Place (map; the nearest Tube to here is Hyde Park Corner).

There is a special exhibition in 2008: the Ballroom will be set up for a State Banquet. A special book "For the Royal Table" has been published by The Royal Collection to accompany this exhibition:

For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace
Author: Kathryn Jones
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: Jul 2008

The Royal Collection (c) 2003, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The back of the palace (*)

Path through the garden

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The entrance to the Queen's Gallery in London is located on Buckingham Palace Road (map).
This is open throughout the year and displays items from the Royal Collection.

The Royal Collection (c) 2003, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Entrance to the Queen's Gallery (*)
The Royal Collection (c) 2003, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Entrance hall (*)

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The Royal Mews is where the Queen's road transport is kept. This includes the carriages which she uses during special ceremonies. It is also a working stable for the horses which are used. The entrance to the Royal Mews is on Buckingham Palace Road (map).

The Royal Collection (c) 2003, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Gold State Coach (used for coronations) (*)

Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace: Official Guidebook
Author: Hugh Vickers
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: July 2006

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The soldiers who look after the Queen's security are known as the Household Guard. As well as performing ceremonial duties at the palace they are also fighting soldiers.

The Changing of the Guard (also known as Guard Mounting) takes place in front of Buckingham Palace: map
It is daily from April to July and once every 2 days from August until March. Sometimes it is cancelled if it is raining very heavily.
If you want to watch you should be there by about 11am. The best viewing places are on the steps of the Victoria Monument or next to the gates along the front of the palace. The ceremony starts at 11:30am and lasts about 40 minutes. The marching is accompanied by a military band. After the ceremony the guards in front of the palace remain in position for two hours, switching their positions every 15 minutes.

To check the dates for the Changing of the Guard, see:

There is also a different ceremony for the change of the horse guard each day. This starts at 11am Monday-Saturday (it is at 10am on Sundays) and is on Horse Guards Parade: map (you can get here from an entrance gate on Whitehall; nearest Tube: Westminster or Embankment). In total this traditional ceremony lasts about 30 minutes (there is no music).

A similar changing of the guard ceremony takes place at Windsor Castle.

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To get to Buckingham Palace by public transport:
- Underground (Tube): the nearest stations are Victoria, St James's Park or Green Park
- Train: the closest railway station is at Victoria
- Bus: numbers 11, 211 and 239 stop on Buckingham Palace Road, and many services go to Victoria bus station
- Coach: most services to London finish at Victoria, which is within walking distance of the palace
- Sightseeing buses stop on Buckingham Palace Road

The Queen's official website:
Changing the Guard:
The Royal Collection:
The Queen's Gallery:
The Royal Mews:
The Guards Museum:
Household Cavalry Museum:

* Photos on this page which are marked with an asterisk have been provided by The Royal Collection, © 2007, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Clarence House - Official Souvenir Guide
Author: Jonathan Marsden
Publisher: The Royal Collection
Date: October 2006
Kensington Palace: The Official Illustrated History
Author: Edward Impey
Publisher: Merrell Publishers Ltd
Date: July 2003
Royal Palaces of Britain
Author: Jane Struthers
Publisher: New Holland Publishers Ltd
Date: October 2004

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Trooping the Colour (the Queen's Birthday Parade): Ideas/Album/TroopingTheColour
The State Opening of Parliament: Ideas/Album/StateOpeningOfParliament

Windsor Castle: Travel/Tours/England/Windsor
Garter Day: Ideas/Album/GarterDay
Royal Ascot: Ideas/Album/RoyalAscot

British history: Britain/History
The Royal Family: Britain/Countries/Royalty

Versailles (a French royal palace): Travel/Tours/France/Versailles

Home page: Home

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