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Buckingham Palace

Highlights of Buckingham Palace

There are so many things to see and do at Buckingham Palace. Discover the highlights of a visit to Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of His Majesty The King. 

You may also like our guide to the top things to see and do at Buckingham Palace. Visiting with children? Explore our top 10 highlights for children and families.

The State Rooms

White Drawing Room©

The State Rooms are the public rooms in the Palace where the monarch and members of the Royal Family receive and entertain their guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions. There are 19 State Rooms, which mainly reflect the taste of George IV, who commissioned the architect John Nash to transform Buckingham House into a grand palace in 1825. The State Rooms are furnished with many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, sculpture by Canova, Sèvres porcelain, and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.

Many of the State Rooms have particular uses today. The Throne Room is used for court ceremonies and official entertaining, and was the setting for the wedding photos of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The White Drawing Room, perhaps the grandest of all the State Rooms, serves as a royal reception room for The King and members of the Royal Family to gather before official occasions.

 

Explore the White Drawing Room in our 360 image

Image credit: Will Pearson | Eye Revolution

The Throne Room

The Throne Room in Buckingham Palace©

The Throne Room's dramatic arch and canopy over the thrones was the masterpiece of the architect John Nash, and was greatly influenced by his background in theatre set designs.

Central to the room is the pair of throne chairs which are known as Chairs of Estate. They were made for the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1953 and were also used for the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. You can also see throne chairs made for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, and a single throne chair made for Queen Victoria in 1837.

 

Explore the Throne Room in our 360 image

Image credit: Will Pearson | Eye Revolution

The Ballroom

The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace set up for a banquet©
Visitors view the portrait of The King by Jonathan Yeo on display in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace. William Charnley/The Drapers' Company

This enormous room, the largest of the State Rooms, was completed in 1855, during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was originally known as the Ball and Concert Room and features a musicians’ gallery complete with an organ. Today, the Ballroom is used for official purposes, including investitures and State Banquets.

The recently unveiled portrait of The King by Jonathan Yeo is on display in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace as part of the summer opening of the Palace. The portrait shows His Majesty wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, of which he was made Regimental Colonel in 1975. The painting will ultimately hang in Drapers' Hall in London.

Music Room

The Music Room©

Originally known as the Bow Drawing Room, the Music Room was completed in 1831 and has not been altered since. This is the room where guests, having assembled in the Green Drawing Room, are presented before a dinner or a banquet. Here too, royal babies are sometimes christened – The King was baptised here in water brought from the River Jordan.

A spectacular feature of the Music Room is the parquet floor of satinwood, rosewood, tulipwood, mahogany, holly and other woods. Inlaid with the cypher of George IV, it is a triumph of English craftsmanship and one of the finest of its type in the country.

 

The Picture Gallery

The Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace©

The Picture Gallery inside Buckingham Palace displays some of the greatest paintings in the Royal Collection.  It was created by the architect John Nash as part of his transformation of Buckingham House into a palace for George IV from 1825.

The 47-metre room was designed as a setting for the King’s picture collection. The paintings in the Picture Gallery are changed quite regularly, as The King lends many works of art to exhibitions around the UK and overseas. Currently you can see Italian, Dutch and Flemish works mainly from the 17th century, grouped by subject and artistic nationality. Among the artists represented are Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck and Claude.

The Picture Gallery has always been used for official entertaining.  Today it is the setting for receptions hosted by the monarch and members of the Royal Family to recognise achievement in a particular walk of life or sector in the community.  It is also here that the recipients of honours wait before being led into the Ballroom for their investiture.

Explore the Picture Gallery in our 360 image

The Grand Staircase

Grand Staircase©

Designed by John Nash and inspired by his experience working in London theatres, the Grand Staircase provides a sense of excitement and expectation for the rooms that follow.

Full length portraits of immediate members of Queen Victoria's family decorate the upper part of the staircase. These include her grandparents George III and Queen Charlotte, by Sir William Beechey, her parents the Duke and Duchess of Kent, by George Dawe and Sir George Hayter, and her uncle, William IV, by Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

 

Explore the Grand Staircase in our 360 image

Image credit: Will Pearson | Eye Revolution

Palace Garden

Features among the 16-hectare garden include the 150 metre herbaceous border, a summer house, rose garden, the enormous Waterloo Vase and the Palace tennis court, where King George VI and Fred Perry played in the 1930s. The garden is best-known as the setting for royal garden parties. The garden can be explored as part of the Summer Opening of the Palace. Read more about the garden today and the people who helped create it. 

Changing the Guard

Guard Change at Buckingham Palace©

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace encompasses colourful spectacle and British pageantry.

During the Changing the Guard ceremony, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’, one detatchment of troops takes over from another. The King’s Guard is made up of the St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments. The New Guard, who during the course of the ceremony become The King’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks with musical accompaniment.

When can I watch it?

The ceremony usually takes place, weather permitting, at 11.00 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. For the most up to date information see the British Army website. Please note that this schedule is set by the British Army and is subject to change. If you have any queries about the schedule contact the British Army through their website. 

Treasures of the Palace

Vase in the State Dining Room at Buckingham Palace©

Each room in Buckingham Palace is filled with furniture, paintings, and objects with a story. Discover more about these objects online with our room-by-room listing explaining which objects from the Collection are currently on display.

Visit the Marble Hall where you can see magnificent marble sculptures and dazzling paintings, including portraits of Queen Victoria's family. Before you visit go behind the scenes and read about how some of these wonderful paintings were conserved.


The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.