Buckingham Palace State Rooms: London’s hidden gem

Tiempo de lectura: 6 minutos
The White drawing room with its enormous chandelier, one of the most impressive Buckingham Palace State Rooms.
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Ever wanted to step inside a real working royal palace? Well, we’re going to let you in on a secret. Every summer, for six weeks only, you can take a tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms!

Between July and September, you’re allowed to have a snoop around the mysterious royal chambers. We don’t know about you, but we’ve always wanted to waltz past those iconic wrought iron gates and prance about in the palace, pretending to be a princess!

While we can’t promise you that you’ll see the King sitting in the kitchen eating his cornflakes, you will be taken on a tour of the 19 magnificent State Rooms. What should you expect? Read on to find out.

Buckingham Palace State Rooms: a must for history and art enthusiasts

The Buckingham Palace State Rooms are the ultimate attraction for those seeking a glimpse into the grandeur and elegance of British royalty. Decked out with exquisite art and plush furnishings, these rooms offer a fascinating insight into the history and traditions of the monarchy.

This series of lavish chambers is used by the Royal Family for official and state functions. And when the royals take their summer hols, they very generously open up their official residence for you to have a peek.

Buckingham Palace State Rooms: a brief history

The driveway leading up to the magnificent Buckingham Palace with union jack flags lining the road.

The Buckingham Palace State Rooms were built in the early 19th century, when King George IV decided to transform the former Buckingham House into a more suitable residence for the monarchy.

The grandiose State Rooms we see today are the result of his vision and the refurbishments carried out by his successors. Each room is steeped in history and serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of the British monarchy.

The Buckingham Palace State Rooms have borne witness to centuries of history and tradition, from intimate family gatherings to sumptuous state banquets. For example:

  • Keen dancer Queen Victoria held concerts and state balls in the Ballroom, with world-class musicians such as Strauss and Mendelssohn performing.
  • The sociable Queen Victoria also used to throw spectacular balls in the Throne Room.
  • King Charles, his siblings Anne and Andrew, and his son Prince William were all christened in the Music Room.
  • Kate and William had their wedding photos taken in the Throne Room in April 2011.
  • In May 2011, the Obamas were invited round for dinner in the vast Ballroom.
  • The day before his coronation, in May 2023, Charles met with foreign dignitaries in the Picture Gallery.

Architecture and decoration of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms

From the moment you enter the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, you’ll be wowed. The first thing you see is the appropriately named grand staircase. Try not to let your jaw hit the floor too loudly, as that goes against royal etiquette!

As you walk through the palace, room after room shines. Each State Room has its own special design features, decoration and precious objects. Items this rare would normally be displayed in glass cases in a museum. But at Buckingham Palace, they are still in use. It’s  a living museum.

Let’s take a look at some of the main State Rooms and their features.

The Throne Room

The Throne Room, with its red walls and two impressive thrones.

The Throne Room with its, yes, you guessed it, thrones (!) is a highlight. This room is particularly opulent. It was designed by the architect John Nash, who, with his background in set design, added a theatrical arch and canopy over the thrones.

The White Drawing Room

Although smaller than many, the White Drawing Room is arguably the most interesting room in the palace. Decorated in white and gold, it is one seriously swanky state room!

It’s used as a royal reception room for the King and other members of the Royal Family to gather before official occasions. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and hear what the Royals gossip about over a cup of tea!

Take a close look at the seemingly commonplace mirrors and cabinets. They double up as secret doors, allowing the Royal Family to get into the room from the private rooms behind!

The Ballroom

This vast, cavernous room, built for Queen Victoria, who famously loved to dance, has a horseshoe-shaped table built to accommodate 170 guests. That might just be one of the world’s largest tables!

The Music Room

The Music Room, one of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, with its enormous chandelier and grand piano.

There is a colossal organ in the music room, which, at one time, was the largest and most powerful instrument in the country. It belonged to the party-loving George IV, who had “an extraordinary love of music.” Originally housed in George’s Royal Pavilion in Brighton, it was transported to the Music Room in the 1800s.

The Blue Drawing Room

The Blue Drawing Room with its impressive chandeliers.

Despite its name, this room is not blue in the slightest! One of the first things you’ll notice is the incredible chandeliers, but make sure you check out the large, circular table. It was commissioned by none other than Napoleon.

The most beautiful artworks housed in the Buckingham Palace State Rooms

The Picture Gallery with its many famous works of art – this is one of the rooms where official events are held.

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming-sounding “Picture Gallery.” This treasure trove of Old Master paintings houses a stunning collection put together by George IV and his predecessors, from Rembrandt to Rubens and Van Dyck to Vermeer.

Some of the Picture Gallery’s renowned paintings are:

  • Vermeer’s Music Lesson, possibly the best-known work in the Royal Collection
  • Van Dyck’s portrait of Henrietta Maria, who was Charles I’s wife
  • A self-portrait by Rubens
  • Several scenes of Venice, by Canaletto
  • Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger
  • The Adoration of the Magi by Leonardo da Vinci

Fun facts about the Buckingham Palace State Rooms

Even in the most regal of surroundings, there’s always room for a bit of a laugh. With that in mind, here are some fun facts about the Buckingham Palace State Rooms:

  • Esteemed architect John Nash, famed for overhauling the original Buckingham House and designing much of today’s palace, went horribly over budget and got fired!
  • Between 1838 and 1841, a boy called Edward Jones broke into the palace several times. Among other things, he stole a sword, the queen’s underwear and even had a cheeky go on the throne!
  • There are 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace, of which 19 are State Rooms. There are also 52 royal/guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 78 bathrooms and 92 offices!
  • At a whopping 36.6 metres long, 18 metres wide, and 13.5 metres high, the Ballroom is the biggest room in Buckingham Palace.
  • State Rooms only open in the summer when the Royal Family goes off on their hols. And where do they choose to go? To sunny Scotland!
  • Despite the royals being on their holidays, there is a small chance Charlie might be there during your visit. How can you tell? Look at the flag! If there’s a Union flag over the palace, he’s not there. If the Royal Standard flag is flying, you might be in luck!
  • The palace garden is 40 acres and has tennis courts, a lake and even a helicopter landing pad for all those high-flying celebrity visitors.

Pay the Royal Family a visit in their official residence!

A visit to the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace is an absolute must for anyone who loves history, art or the good old Royal Family.

Many visitors to London choose to see the Changing of the Guard, wander the halls of Westminster Abbey or climb the Tower of London. While these are all fantastic options, we’ve got a special place in our royal-loving hearts for the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace!

So, if you’re lucky enough to be in London between July and September, keep a space in your diary to pay a visit to Charlie and his family.

Frequently Asked Questions

To make the most of your visit to the Buckingham Palace State Rooms and avoid the crowds, try booking a time slot early in the morning for a more serene visit with fewer tourists.

You are allowed to bring handbags and small backpacks inside the palace, but you have to carry these by your side (not on your back). Large bags and backpacks (bigger than 45cm x 20cm x 30cm) are not allowed within the State Rooms. If you have bigger items of luggage to store, there are facilities nearby, for example at Victoria Station.

Unfortunately, taking photographs inside the State Rooms is strictly prohibited. This policy is in place to preserve and protect the priceless artworks and furnishings that adorn the rooms.

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