Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the center of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and mourning.
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site that had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and became known as The Queen's House. During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, who constructed three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.
Every year, some 50,000 invited guests are entertained at garden parties, receptions, audiences, and banquets. Three Garden Parties are held in the summer, usually in July. The Forecourt of Buckingham Palace is used for Changing of the Guard, a major ceremony and tourist attraction.
What can i see at Buckingham Palace?
The Queens Guard
The Queen's Guard and Queen's Life Guard are mounted at the royal residences that come under the operating area of the British Army's London District, which is responsible for the administration of the Household Division. This covers Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and the Tower of London, as well as Windsor Castle.
The Queen's Guard is the name given to the contingent of infantry responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace . The guard is made up of a company of soldiers from a single regiment, which is split in two, providing a detachment for Buckingham Palace and a detachment for St James's Palace. Because the Sovereign's official residence is still St James's, the guard commander (called the 'Captain of the Guard') is based there, as are the regiment's colours.
When the Sovereign is in residence, the Queen's Guard numbers three officers and 40 other ranks, with four sentries each posted at Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace. The Queen's Guard is not purely ceremonial in nature. They provide sentries during the day and night, and during the latter hours they patrol the grounds of the Palace. Until 1959, the sentries at Buckingham Palace were stationed outside the fence.
Important Palace Tour Information
Visitors should be aware that the garden path is a mixture of gravel and sand, and long distances have to be covered. While wheelchairs and rollators are available to borrow in the State Rooms they cannot be taken into the garden.
Folding stools are available for visitors to borrow; these are issued on a first-come first-served basis and are not available to book in advance, please ask a member of staff on the day of your visit. A buggy is usually available to transport visitors with particular access requirements on a Highlights Garden Tour, but is available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you would like to use the buggy please mention this at the time of booking.
Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs are welcome and can be used in the Quadrangle and the Garden, and are permitted inside the Palace providing they are compatible with the lifts. The lifts measure 148cm in depth by 94 cm in width with a weight limit of 500kg; and 160cm in depth by 94cm in width with a weight limit of 750kg.
Visitors with Class 3 vehicles will be asked to set their speed limiter to 4mph. Manual wheelchairs are available for visitors to transfer if required.