A new 3 part series begins on BBC1 with Fiona Bruce exploring the stories behind official royal residences and the evolution of their architecture. The first part, shown on Monday, begins with a look at Buckingham Palace where Fiona Bruce learns about its links with the London sewers – nice! A member of our team was fortunate enough to get tickets to go on coach holidays
to see inside the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace and to see up close the beautiful wedding dress worn by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William. Find out about the trip here…
No sooner had it been announced that Kate Middleton’s wedding dress will be on display during the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace this year, the demand for tickets soared through the roof so mum and I were extremely lucky to be able to get ours that’s for sure. So eager were we to take a look around Buckingham Palace, we got there almost 45 minutes too early, any excuse for a coffee and a bun to pass the time. Before long, it was our entry time so we hot-footed it to the Visitors Entrance where we had to queue for a short while before going through security – it felt as though we were going on holiday somewhere exotic rather than taking a look around 'Lizzie’s Home' as we removed anything metal to go through the scanners. I’d only just said a second before walking through the body scanner that I would no doubt get stopped, low and behold I did!
We gathered our belongings, put watches and jewellery back on and made sure that our mobile phones were switched off as we picked up our free audio guide for our tour of Buckingham Palace. Once we finally worked out how to use the audio guide (there were all sorts of numbers etc to enter and at specific times), we began our walk through this spectacular building.
We are guided through the first Hall and as we looked outside, we could see the beautiful Quadrangle, and it is here where carriage processions form up on ceremonial occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament. During a State Visit, the mounted band of the Household Division plays here to welcome the carriages containing the visitor and their suite. As the audio guide kicks in, we hear a delightful ‘Welcome’ message from Prince Charles as we walk through to the Grand Staircase that leads up to the first floor. If you’re lucky enough to get inside Buckingham Palace, at this point take a look down the stairs and you’ll see the stunning Grand Hall, the first of many State Rooms and this is where The Queen’s guests arrive to attend her Garden Parties or Evening Receptions.
As we leave the Grand Hall, our informative audio guide takes us on a tour of the other beautifully designed State Rooms all filled with important pieces of furniture and priceless paintings that have been kept within the Royal Family for generations. We don’t want to give too much away, just in case, you’re planning a visit here yourself, but here’s a little idea on what to expect…
Green Drawing Room
This room has always been hung with green silk hence it’s rather apt name and every 30 years alterations have been made to this room depending on the various occupants at the time. Here you’ll find green-ground Sévres porcelain vases to match the wall coverings.
The Throne Room
Everything in this room directs the eye to the stunning throne dais and canopy, a stage for the pageantry of monarchy. Take a look above you and you’ll see shields bearing the arms of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Hanover. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to ever use this room with its chandeliers lit by over 200 candles. It is here where the wedding photos are taken, most recently of William and Kate.
The Picture Gallery
This beautiful Gallery is located in the centre of Buckingham Palace where designer Nash achieved his ambition of creating a prominent setting for George IV’s magnificent picture collection include Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and others.
The East Gallery
This is the principal Victorian addition to the Palace which was built on and around the site of the libraries that George III’s architect William Chambers added to Buckingham Palace towards the end of the 18th Century.
Each year, the Ballroom is the setting for 20 Investiture Ceremonies at which the recipients of honours published in The Queens New Year and Birthday Honours List are invested with their insignia by The Queen. It is in this room that you’ll be able to see up-close the stunning dress worn by Kate Middleton when she wed Prince William. There are various TV screens set up so you can watch film footage as the designer of the dress, Sarah Burton, explains the process behind creating this magnificent masterpiece. Visitors will be amazed by exactly how much detail and how much work went into the creation of the dress. If you look closely at the dress, you’ll see a series of lace motifs including a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock to represent England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Did you know that the embroiders washed their hands every 30 minutes to keep the lace pristine? You’ll also get to see her beautiful veil, bridal shoes and diamond earrings as well as the stunning Wedding Cake – you can even see where the couple cut the cake!
The West Gallery
At Investiture Ceremonies, The Queen and her attendants enter The Ballroom via the West Gallery to stand on the dais but, at State Banquets she will guide her guests from the main body of the State Apartments into the Ballroom via the East Gallery.
The State Dining Room
Since Queen Victoria’s reign, this room has been used for dining on special occasions. In recent times, The Queen and the Prince Of Wales have used this room to entertain various world leaders and the opening of The Queens Gallery in 2002.
The Blue Drawing Room
This is the farthest of the three Drawing Rooms from the private apartments and was effectively the Ballroom of the Palace before Pennethorne’s additions of 1855-56.
The Music Room
Located at the centre of the West Front, and facing the garden, this room is used occasionally for private recitals and for Royal Christenings. The Queen’s three eldest children were all baptised here with water brought from the River Jordan.
The White Drawing Room
Take a look at the two tall mirrors standing at one end of this room, one of them cleverly conceals a door that The Queen and other members of the Royal Family sometimes use to discreetly enter the State Rooms from the private rooms beyond!
The Marble Hall
This lies directly beneath the Picture Gallery and was designed specifically for the display of sculptures. Here you’ll find examples from the private collection of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The Bow Room
Originally intended to be used as a Library, it was adapted to serve as Drawing Rooms for the newly reorganised Royal Household and at one point it was used for the christening of Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold.
Measuring 16-hectares (40 acres), the garden forms part of an extraordinarily large and varied green landscape at the heart of London, comprising of St James’ Park and Green Park. Providing a habitat for 100s of plants and animals. The Garden is the setting for The Queen’s many Garden parties of which around 8000 guests attend.
Have you been lucky enough to visit Buckingham Palace this summer? What did you think of the State Rooms? Wasn’t the wedding dress beautiful? We’d love to hear what you thought so do get in touch.