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Queen Victoria and Buckingham Palace

Though Victoria was initially delighted with Buckingham Palace’s ‘high, pleasant and cheerful interiors’, the royal residence was unmodernised and unsuitable for both official and family life. Victoria was particularly frustrated by the lack of ‘a room capable of containing a larger number of those persons whom the Queen has to invite in the course of the season to balls, concerts etc.’  To address this, she commissioned the architect James Pennethorne to design a new annexe.

The short films below explore some of the key changes introduced by Victoria, that make Buckingham Palace instantly recognisable today.

The Ballroom

The Palace’s new Ballroom and Ball Supper Room were completed in May 1856, and on 17 June of that year, a Ball was held to mark the end of the Crimean War and honour the returning soldiers.

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The Marble Arch

In order to accommodate the extra space that Queen Victoria desired for her growing family, the East Front was added to the existing Palace. This meant that John Nash's Triumphal Arch, installed as the entrance to George IV's Palace, needed to be moved. In 1851, it was moved to the entrance to Hyde Park, where it became known as the Marble Arch.

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The Chinese Drawing Room

This room, incorporating items removed from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, was one of the first in the new East Front to be completed. It was very much a domestic space, enjoyed by Victoria, Albert and their children.

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The Grand Staircase

This is a survivor from the work undertaken by John Nash for George IV. Queen Victoria held lavish balls and receptions, and the Staircase remained as the entrance to the State Rooms.

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