Originally the Palace of Whitehall was the official London residence of the monarch. When that was burnt down in 1698, St James’s Palace on the Mall became the monarch’s official residence.
George IV, before his accession to the throne in 1820, had been living in Carlton House, Pall Mall. When he became king he wanted something more imposing. With great reluctance, Parliament granted the King £200,000 (a huge fortune at the time) to renovate the dilapidated Buckingham House. George IV had other ideas and commissioned John Nash to rebuild it almost entirely. The shell of the original house and some of the floorplan was retained, but the house was made much bigger and the costs of the renovation reached £700,000. George IV died before it was completed and his successor, William IV never lived there either. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to take up residence in Buckingham Palace.
Now the Changing of the Guard ceremony is a big attraction for visitors. The Palace has been the start and end point for many official occasions like the Queen’s Coronation, the weddings of Prince Charles to Diana, and the Queen’s other children as well as for the funeral of Princess Diana. On that occasion, nobody who saw it will ever forget the sea of flowers in front of the Palace’s railings or the Queen bowing her head as the coffin passed.
The State Rooms in Buckingham Palace are open to visitors in the summer giving an opportunity to see the fabulous antiques and picture collection.
Address: Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1A 1AA
Telephone: 020 7321 2233
Tube: Victoria – Circle, District and Victoria lines
Directions: Leave the tube station, turning right onto Buckingham Palace Road and walk for about 5 or 10 minutes.
Opening times: August and September, check before visiting because State occasions, etc, may cause opening times to change at short notice.