From the outside, Buckingham Palace may look like a dismal, grey building that doesn't have much to offer. But in a classic case of “don't judge a book by its cover,” this grey building is essentially the epicentre of royal London which serves as the official royal residence of the Queen, as well as the administrative headquarters for the British monarchy.

Dating back to 1703, Buckingham Palace was originally built for the Duke of Buckingham (hence the name), but was eventually transformed into an official residence for several notable royals such as George IV, Queen Victoria, Edward VII, William IV, and many more.

Both Edward VII and William IV were born at Buckingham Palace, and Queen Elizabeth II gave birth to both her sons (Prince Charles and Prince Andrew) inside the palace as well. Queen Victoria was the first member of the British royal family to rule from Buckingham Palace, and held countless lavish costume balls, concerts and events inside the palace throughout her reign.

Buckingham Palace, balcony Buckingham Palace, exterior
Buckingham Palace, from above Buckingham Palace, from the garden Buckingham Palace, gardens

Buckingham Palace Highlights

Buckingham Palace has around 775 rooms including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, 92 offices, and even a cinema, swimming pool, post office and police station. (It even has its own postal code!)

Out of the hundreds of rooms inside the palace, the most famous are The Grand Hall, The State Dining Room (which is used by presidents and prime ministers from all over the world), The White Drawing Room (which is used as a Royal reception room) and The Bow Room (which is used to entertain guests during the Royal Garden Parties). The Throne Room is also the setting for various formal royal family photographs (such as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge).

The Buckingham Palace gardens are also famous in their own right, and are often described as “a walled oasis in the middle of London.” The gardens boast more than 350 different types of wildflowers, over 200 trees, a three-acre lake, and even tennis courts (where King George VI and Fred Perry used to play during the 1930s).

The eastern front of the palace (the side which is the most visible to the public), is perhaps the most famous as it is where members of the royal family step out onto the balcony to wave to the crowds; (however, this only occurs during royal weddings, events and celebrations). The street which leads to Buckingham Palace (also known as “The Mall”), is also famous as it serves as a “ceremonial approach” route to the palace.

Special Tips

  • If you purchase your tickets directly from the Royal Collection Trust, you will automatically be given a 12 months' complimentary admission to return to the palace. To get the annual pass, make sure you sign and print your name on your ticket before you leave the palace, and get a member of staff to stamp and validate it.
  • If you don't feel like taking a tour of the inside of the palace, you can always enjoy spectacular views of the palace from the outside – but make sure you correlate your visit The Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place at 11:30 a.m. everyday. The ceremony leads to Buckingham Palace as well as St. James's Palace and Wellington Barracks, however the best spot for watching the ceremony is said to be at the eastern side of Buckingham Palace near the gates.