Buckingham Palace
Overview
 
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

. Located in the City of Westminster
City of Westminster
The City of Westminster is a London borough occupying much of the central area of London, England, including most of the West End. It is located to the west of and adjoining the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary...

, the palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focus for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse
Townhouse
A townhouse is the term historically used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in many other countries to describe a residence of a peer or member of the aristocracy in the capital or major city. Most such figures owned one or more country houses in which they lived for much of the year...

 built for the Duke of Buckingham
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, KG, PC , was a poet and notable Tory politician of the late Stuart period, who served as Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council.-Career:...

 in 1705 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years.
Encyclopedia
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

. Located in the City of Westminster
City of Westminster
The City of Westminster is a London borough occupying much of the central area of London, England, including most of the West End. It is located to the west of and adjoining the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary...

, the palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focus for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today's palace was a large townhouse
Townhouse
A townhouse is the term historically used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in many other countries to describe a residence of a peer or member of the aristocracy in the capital or major city. Most such figures owned one or more country houses in which they lived for much of the year...

 built for the Duke of Buckingham
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, KG, PC , was a poet and notable Tory politician of the late Stuart period, who served as Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council.-Career:...

 in 1705 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George III...

, and known as "The Queen's House". During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash
John Nash (architect)
John Nash was a British architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London.-Biography:Born in Lambeth, London, the son of a Welsh millwright, Nash trained with the architect Sir Robert Taylor. He established his own practice in 1777, but his career was initially unsuccessful and...

 and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregate to greet crowds outside. However, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb in World War II; the Queen's Gallery
Queen's Gallery
The Queen's Gallery is a public art gallery located at Buckingham Palace, home of the British monarch, in London. It exhibits works of art from the Royal Collection The Queen's Gallery is a public art gallery located at Buckingham Palace, home of the British monarch, in London. It exhibits works of...

 was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection
Royal Collection
The Royal Collection is the art collection of the British Royal Family. It is property of the monarch as sovereign, but is held in trust for her successors and the nation. It contains over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, and about 150,000 old master prints, as well as historical...

.

The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of brightly coloured scagliola
Scagliola
Scagliola , is a technique for producing stucco columns, sculptures, and other architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble and semi-precious stones...

 and blue and pink lapis
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color....

, on the advice of Sir Charles Long. King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle Époque
Belle Époque
The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic and the German Empire, it was a period characterised by optimism and new technological and medical...

cream and gold colour scheme. Many smaller reception rooms are furnished in the Chinese regency
Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", and pronounced ) refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences...

 style with furniture and fittings brought from the Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built in three campaigns, beginning in 1787, as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, from 1811 Prince Regent. It is often referred to as the Brighton Pavilion...

 at Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

 and from Carlton House. The Buckingham Palace Garden is the largest private garden in London.

The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace's Summer Opening.

History

The site

In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, Buckingham Palace's site formed part of the Manor of Ebury (also called Eia). The marshy ground was watered by the river Tyburn
Tyburn (stream)
The Tyburn is a stream in London, which runs underground from South Hampstead through St. James's Park to meet the River Thames at Pimlico near Vauxhall Bridge. It is not to be confused with the Tyburn Brook which is a tributary of the River Westbourne....

, which still flows below the courtyard and south wing of the palace. Where the river was fordable (at Cow Ford), the village of Eye Cross grew. Ownership of the site changed hands many times; owners included Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor
Edward the Confessor also known as St. Edward the Confessor , son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England and is usually regarded as the last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066....

 and his queen consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 Edith of Wessex
Edith of Wessex
Edith of Wessex married King Edward the Confessor of England on 23 January 1045. Unlike most wives of kings of England in the tenth and eleventh centuries, she was crowned queen, but the marriage produced no children...

 in late Saxon times, and, after the Norman Conquest
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

, William the Conqueror. William gave the site to Geoffrey de Mandeville
Geoffrey de Mandeville (11th century)
Geoffrey de Mandeville may have been Constable of the Tower of London. His surname comes from the town of Manneville or Magna Villa near Valognes in Manche on the Cotentin Peninsula...

, who bequeathed it to the monks of Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

.

In 1531, Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

 acquired the Hospital of St James (later St. James's Palace) from Eton College
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

, and in 1536 he took the Manor of Ebury from Westminster Abbey. These transfers brought the site of Buckingham Palace back into royal hands for the first time since William the Conqueror had given it away almost 500 years earlier.

Various owners leased it from royal landlords and the freehold
Fee simple
In English law, a fee simple is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. It is the most common way that real estate is owned in common law countries, and is ordinarily the most complete ownership interest that can be had in real property short of allodial title, which is often reserved...

 was the subject of frenzied speculation during the 17th century. By then, the old village of Eye Cross had long since fallen into decay, and the area was mostly wasteland. Needing money, James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 sold off part of the Crown freehold but retained part of the site on which he established a 4 acres (16,187.4 m²) mulberry garden for the production of silk. (This is at the northwest corner of today's palace.) Clement Walker
Clement Walker
Clement Walker was an English lawyer, official and politician. As a member of the Long Parliament, he became an outspoken critic of the conduct of its affairs, and allied himself to William Prynne...

 in Anarchia Anglicana (1649) refers to "new-erected sodoms and spintries at the Mulberry Garden at S. James's"; this suggests it may have been a place of debauchery. Eventually, in the late 17th century, the freehold was inherited from the property tycoon Sir Hugh Audley
Hugh Audley
Hugh Audley , also known as The Great Audley, was an English moneylender, lawyer and philosopher...

 by the great heiress Mary Davies.

Goring House

Possibly the first house erected within the site was that of a Sir William Blake, around 1624. The next owner was Lord Goring
George Goring, 1st Earl of Norwich
George Goring, 1st Earl of Norwich was an English soldier.He was the son of George Goring of Hurstpierpoint and Ovingdean, Sussex, and of Anne Denny, sister of Edward Denny, 1st Earl of Norwich. He matriculated from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1600, and may subsequently have spent some...

, who from 1633 extended Blake's house and developed much of today's garden, then known as Goring Great Garden. He did not, however, manage to obtain freehold interest in the mulberry garden. Unbeknown to Goring, in 1640 the document "failed to pass the Great Seal
Great Seal of the Realm
The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom is a seal that is used to symbolise the Sovereign's approval of important state documents...

 before King Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 fled London, which it needed to do for legal execution
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

". (It was this critical omission that helped the British royal family regain the freehold under King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

.)

Arlington House

The improvident Goring defaulted on his rents; Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington
Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington
Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington KG, PC was an English statesman.- Background and early life :He was the son of Sir John Bennet of Dawley, Middlesex, and of Dorothy Crofts. He was the younger brother of John Bennet, 1st Baron Ossulston; his sister was Elizabeth Bennet who married Robert Kerr,...

 obtained the mansion and was occupying it, now known as Goring House, when it burned down in 1674. Arlington House rose on the site—the southern wing of today's palace—the next year, and its freehold was bought in 1702.

Buckingham House

The house which forms the architectural core of the present palace was built for the first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, KG, PC , was a poet and notable Tory politician of the late Stuart period, who served as Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council.-Career:...

 in 1703 to the design of William Winde
William Winde
Captain William Winde was an English gentleman architect, whose Royalist military career, resulting in fortifications and topographical surveys but lack of preferment, and his later career, following the Glorious Revolution, as designer or simply "conductor" of the works of country houses, has...

. The style chosen was of a large, three-floored central block with two smaller flanking service wings. Buckingham House was eventually sold by Buckingham's descendant, Sir Charles Sheffield, in 1761 to George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 for £
Pound (currency)
The pound is a unit of currency in some nations. The term originated in England as the value of a pound of silver.The word pound is the English translation of the Latin word libra, which was the unit of account of the Roman Empire...

21,000 (£ as of ).

Like his grandfather, George II, George III refused to sell the mulberry garden interest, so that Sheffield had been unable to purchase the full freehold of the site. When Sheffield sold Buckingham House it came into the hands of the Royal Family.

From Queen's House to palace

The house was originally intended as a private retreat, and in particular for Queen Charlotte
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George III...

, and was known as The Queen's House—14 of their 15 children were born there. St. James's Palace remained the official and ceremonial royal residence.

Remodelling of the structure began in 1762. After his accession to the throne in 1820, George IV
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

 continued the renovation with the idea in mind of a small, comfortable home. While the work was in progress, in 1826, the King decided to modify the house into a palace with the help of his architect John Nash
John Nash (architect)
John Nash was a British architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London.-Biography:Born in Lambeth, London, the son of a Welsh millwright, Nash trained with the architect Sir Robert Taylor. He established his own practice in 1777, but his career was initially unsuccessful and...

. Some furnishings were transferred from Carlton House, and others had been bought in France after the French Revolution. The external façade was designed in the French neo-classical influence preferred by George IV. The cost of the renovations grew exponentially and by 1829, the extravagance of Nash's designs resulted in his removal as architect. On the death of George IV in 1830, his younger brother William IV
William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

 hired Edward Blore to finish the work. At one stage, William considered converting the palace into the new Houses of Parliament, after the destruction of the existing namesake
Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons...

 by fire in 1834.

Home of the monarch

Buckingham Palace finally became the principal royal residence in 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, who was the first monarch to reside there as her predecessor William IV had died before its completion. While the state room
State room
A state room in a large European mansion is usually one of a suite of very grand rooms which were designed to impress. The term was most widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were the most lavishly decorated in the house and contained the finest works of art...

s were a riot of gilt and colour, the necessities of the new palace were somewhat less luxurious. For one thing, it was reported the chimneys smoked so much that the fires had to be allowed to die down, and consequently the court shivered in icy magnificence. Ventilation was so bad that the interior smelled, and when a decision was taken to install gas lamps, there was a serious worry about the build-up of gas on the lower floors. It was also said that the staff were lax and lazy and the palace was dirty. Following the Queen's marriage in 1840, her husband, Prince Albert, concerned himself with a reorganisation of the household
Royal Household
A Royal Household in ancient and medieval monarchies formed the basis for the general government of the country as well as providing for the needs of the sovereign and his relations....

 offices and staff, and with the design faults of the palace. The problems were all rectified by the close of 1840. However, the builders were to return within the decade.

By 1847, the couple had found the palace too small for court life and their growing family, and consequently the new wing, designed by Edward Blore, was built by Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt , born Buxton, Norfolk, was the leading master builder in London in the second quarter of the 19th century, and also carried out several projects in other parts of England.-Background:...

, enclosing the central quadrangle. The large East Front facing The Mall is today the "public face" of Buckingham Palace and contains the balcony from which the Royal Family
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 acknowledge the crowds on momentous occasions and annually after Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and the Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment's colours, or flags, were used as rallying points...

. The ballroom
Ballroom
A ballroom is a large room inside a building, the designated purpose of which is holding formal dances called balls. Traditionally, most balls were held in private residences; many mansions contain one or more ballrooms...

 wing and a further suite of state rooms were also built in this period, designed by Nash's student Sir James Pennethorne
James Pennethorne
Sir James Pennethorne was a notable 19th century English architect and planner, particularly associated with buildings and parks in central London.-Life:...

.

Before Prince Albert's death, the palace was frequently the scene of musical entertainments, and the greatest contemporary musicians entertained at Buckingham Palace. The composer Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

 is known to have played there on three occasions. Johann Strauss II
Johann Strauss II
Johann Strauss II , also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son , was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas...

 and his orchestra played there when in England. Strauss's "Alice Polka" was first performed at the palace in 1849 in honour of the Queen's daughter, Princess Alice
Princess Alice of the United Kingdom
The Princess Alice was a member of the British royal family, the third child and second daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.Alice's education was devised by Albert's close friend and adviser, Baron Stockmar...

. Under Victoria, Buckingham Palace was frequently the scene of lavish costume balls, in addition to the routine royal ceremonies, investitures and presentations.

Widowed in 1861, the grief-stricken Queen withdrew from public life and left Buckingham Palace to live at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

, Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is located near the village of Crathie, west of Ballater and east of Braemar. Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British Royal Family since 1852, when it was purchased by Queen Victoria and her...

, and Osborne House
Osborne House
Osborne House is a former royal residence in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat....

. For many years the palace was seldom used, and even neglected. Eventually, public opinion forced her to return to London, though even then she preferred to live elsewhere whenever possible. Court functions were still held at Windsor Castle rather than at the palace, presided over by the sombre Queen habitually dressed in mourning black while Buckingham Palace remained shuttered for most of the year.

Interior

The Palace measures 108 metres by 120 metres, is 24 metres high and contains over 77000 m² (828,821.1 sq ft) of floorspace. The principal rooms of the palace are contained on the piano nobile
Piano nobile
The piano nobile is the principal floor of a large house, usually built in one of the styles of classical renaissance architecture...

behind the west-facing garden façade at the rear of the palace. The centre of this ornate suite of state rooms is the Music Room, its large bow the dominant feature of the façade. Flanking the Music Room are the Blue and the White Drawing rooms. At the centre of the suite, serving as a corridor to link the state rooms, is the Picture Gallery, which is top-lit and 55 yards (50 m) long. The Gallery is hung with numerous works including some by Rembrandt, van Dyck
Anthony van Dyck
Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next...

, Rubens and Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer
Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime...

; other rooms leading from the Picture Gallery are the Throne Room
Throne room
A throne room is the room, often rather a hall, in the official residence of the crown, either a palace or a fortified castle, where the throne of a senior figure is set up with elaborate pomp— usually raised, often with steps, and under a canopy, both of which are part of the original notion of...

 and the Green Drawing Room. The Green Drawing room serves as a huge anteroom to the Throne Room, and is part of the ceremonial route to the throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

 from the Guard Room at the top of the Grand staircase. The Guard Room contains white marble statues of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in Roman costume, set in a tribune
Tribune (architecture)
Tribune is an ambiguous — and often misused — architectural term which can have several meanings. Today it most often refers to a dais or stage-like platform, or — in a vaguer sense — any place from which a speech can be prominently made.-Etymology:...

 lined with tapestries. These very formal rooms are used only for ceremonial and official entertaining, but are open to the public every summer.

Directly underneath the State Apartments
State room
A state room in a large European mansion is usually one of a suite of very grand rooms which were designed to impress. The term was most widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were the most lavishly decorated in the house and contained the finest works of art...

 is a suite of slightly less grand rooms known as the semi-state apartments. Opening from the Marble Hall, these rooms are used for less formal entertaining, such as luncheon parties and private audiences
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. Some of the rooms are named and decorated for particular visitors, such as the 1844 Room, which was decorated in that year for the State visit of Emperor
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

 of Russia, and, on the other side of the Bow Room, the 1855 Room, in honour of the visit of Emperor Napoleon III of France
Napoleon III of France
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of the French Second Republic and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte...

. At the centre of this suite is the Bow Room, through which thousands of guests pass annually to the Queen's Garden Parties
Garden party
A garden party is a social gathering with food provided, in the open in a park or a garden. An event described as a garden party is usually more formal than other similar gatherings, which may be called just parties, picnics, barbecues, etc,...

 in the Gardens beyond. The Queen uses privately a smaller suite of rooms in the North wing.

Between 1847 and 1850, when Blore was building the new east wing, the Brighton Pavilion
Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built in three campaigns, beginning in 1787, as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, from 1811 Prince Regent. It is often referred to as the Brighton Pavilion...

 was once again plundered of its fittings. As a result, many of the rooms in the new wing have a distinctly oriental atmosphere. The red and blue Chinese Luncheon Room is made up from parts of the Brighton banqueting and music rooms, but has a chimney piece designed by W.M. Feetham. The Yellow Drawing Room has wall paper which had been supplied in 1817 for the Brighton Saloon, and the chimney piece in this room is a European vision of what the Chinese equivalent would look like, complete with nodding mandarins
Mandarin (bureaucrat)
A mandarin was a bureaucrat in imperial China, and also in the monarchist days of Vietnam where the system of Imperial examinations and scholar-bureaucrats was adopted under Chinese influence.-History and use of the term:...

 in niche
Niche (architecture)
A niche in classical architecture is an exedra or an apse that has been reduced in size, retaining the half-dome heading usual for an apse. Nero's Domus Aurea was the first semi-private dwelling that possessed rooms that were given richly varied floor plans, shaped with niches and exedras;...

s and fearsome winged dragons
Chinese dragon
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western and Turkic dragons. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs...

, designed by Robert Jones.

At the centre of this wing is the famous balcony, with the Centre Room behind its glass doors. This is a Chinese-style saloon enhanced by Queen Mary, who, working with the designer Sir Charles Allom
Charles Allom
Sir Charles Carrick Allom was an eminent British decorator, trained as an architect knighted for his work on Buckingham Palace. Among his American clients in the years preceding World War I was Henry Clay Frick, for whom Allom furnished houses in cooperation with Sir Joseph Duveen, the eminent...

, created a more "binding" Chinese theme in the late 1920s, although the lacquer
Lacquer
In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

 doors were brought from Brighton in 1873. Running the length of the piano nobile of the east wing is the great gallery, modestly known as the Principal Corridor, which runs the length of the eastern side of the quadrangle. It has mirrored doors, and mirrored cross walls reflecting porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 pagodas and other oriental furniture from Brighton. The Chinese Luncheon Room and Yellow Drawing Room are situated at each end of this gallery, with the Centre Room obviously placed in the centre.

The original early 19th-century interior designs, many of which still survive, included widespread use of brightly coloured scagliola
Scagliola
Scagliola , is a technique for producing stucco columns, sculptures, and other architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble and semi-precious stones...

 and blue and pink lapis
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color....

, on the advice of Sir Charles Long. King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 oversaw a partial redecoration in a Belle epoque
Belle Époque
The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic and the German Empire, it was a period characterised by optimism and new technological and medical...

 cream and gold colour scheme.

When paying a state visit to Britain, foreign heads of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 are usually entertained by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. They are allocated a large suite of rooms known as the Belgian suite, situated at the foot of the Minister's Staircase, on the ground floor of the North-facing garden wing. The rooms of the suite are linked by narrow corridors, one given extra height and perspective by saucer dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

s designed by Nash in the style of Soane. A second corridor in the suite has Gothic influenced cross over vaulting
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

. The Belgian rooms themselves were decorated in their present style and named after Prince Albert's uncle Léopold I
Leopold I of Belgium
Leopold I was from 21 July 1831 the first King of the Belgians, following Belgium's independence from the Netherlands. He was the founder of the Belgian line of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

, first King of the Belgians. However, at this time the suite was not reserved exclusively for foreign heads of state; in 1936, the suite briefly became the private apartments of the palace when they were occupied by Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

.

Court ceremonies

Court dress

Formerly, men not wearing military uniform
Military uniform
Military uniforms comprises standardised dress worn by members of the armed forces and paramilitaries of various nations. Military dress and military styles have gone through great changes over the centuries from colourful and elaborate to extremely utilitarian...

 would wear knee breeches
Breeches
Breeches are an item of clothing covering the body from the waist down, with separate coverings for each leg, usually stopping just below the knee, though in some cases reaching to the ankles...

 of an 18th-century design. Women's evening dress included obligatory trains and tiara
Tiara
A tiara is a form of crown. There are two possible types of crown that this word can refer to.Traditionally, the word "tiara" refers to a high crown, often with the shape of a cylinder narrowed at its top, made of fabric or leather, and richly ornamented. It was used by the kings and emperors of...

s or feathers in their hair (or both).

The dress code governing formal court uniform and dress
Court uniform and dress
- Court dress :On formal royal occasions in monarchies the dress worn by those present is prescribed by official regulations.Court dress is worn by all men not entitled to court uniform or military uniform on all occasions of state where such are customarily worn...

 has progressively relaxed. After World War I, when Queen Mary wished to follow fashion by raising her skirts a few inches from the ground, she requested a Lady-in-Waiting
Lady-in-waiting
A lady-in-waiting is a female personal assistant at a royal court, attending on a queen, a princess, or a high-ranking noblewoman. Historically, in Europe a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman from a family highly thought of in good society, but was of lower rank than the woman on whom she...

 to shorten her own skirt first to gauge the King's reaction. King George V was horrified and her hemline remained unfashionably low. Subsequently, King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 and his consort, Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the queen consort of King George VI from 1936 until her husband's death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II...

, allowed daytime skirts to rise.

Today, there is no official dress code. Most men invited to Buckingham Palace in the daytime choose to wear service uniform
Uniform
A uniform is a set of standard clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization's activity. Modern uniforms are worn by armed forces and paramilitary organizations such as police, emergency services, security guards, in some workplaces and schools and by inmates...

 or lounge suits, a minority wear morning coats
Tailcoat
A tailcoat is a coat with the front of the skirt cut away, so as to leave only the rear section of the skirt, known as the tails. The historical reason coats were cut this way was to make it easier for the wearer to ride a horse, but over the years tailcoats of varying types have evolved into forms...

, and in the evening, depending on the formality of the occasion, black tie
Black tie
Black tie is a dress code for evening events and social functions. For a man, the main component is a usually black jacket, known as a dinner jacket or tuxedo...

 or white tie
White tie
White tie is the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion. It is worn to ceremonial occasions such as state dinners in some countries, as well as to very formal balls and evening weddings...

. If the occasion is "white tie" then women, if they possess one, wear a tiara.

Presentation of debutantes

Court presentations of aristocrat
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

ic girls as to the monarch took place in the Throne Room
Throne room
A throne room is the room, often rather a hall, in the official residence of the crown, either a palace or a fortified castle, where the throne of a senior figure is set up with elaborate pomp— usually raised, often with steps, and under a canopy, both of which are part of the original notion of...

. These girls were known as débutante
Debutante
A débutante is a young lady from an aristocratic or upper class family who has reached the age of maturity, and as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal "début" presentation. It should not be confused with a Debs...

s, and the occasion—termed their "coming out"—represented their first entrée into society. Débutantes wore full court dress, with three tall ostrich feathers in their hair. They entered, curtsied, performed a choreographed backwards walk and a further curtsy, while manoeuvring a dress train of prescribed length. (The ceremony, known as evening courts, corresponded to the "court drawing rooms
Drawing room
A drawing room is a room in a house where visitors may be entertained. The name is derived from the sixteenth-century terms "withdrawing room" and "withdrawing chamber", which remained in use through the seventeenth century, and made its first written appearance in 1642...

" of earlier reigns.)

In 1958, the Queen abolished the presentation parties for débutantes, replacing them with Garden Parties. Today, the Throne Room is used for the reception of formal addresses such as those given to the Queen on her Jubilees. It is here on the throne dais that royal wedding portraits and family photographs are taken.

Investitures

Investiture
Investiture
Investiture, from the Latin is a rather general term for the formal installation of an incumbent...

s, which include the conferring of knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

hoods by dubbing with a sword, and other awards take place in the palace's Ballroom, built in 1854. At 36.6 m (120.08 ft) long, 18 m (59.06 ft) wide and 13.5 m (44.29 ft) high (120' X 59' X 44' 3.5"), it is the largest room in the palace. It has replaced the throne room in importance and use. During investitures, the Queen stands on the throne dais beneath a giant, domed velvet canopy, which is known as a shamiana or a baldachin
Baldachin
A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

 and was used at the coronation Durbar
Delhi Durbar
The Delhi Durbar , meaning "Court of Delhi", was a mass assembly at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the coronation of a King and Queen of the United Kingdom. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times, in 1877, 1903, and 1911, at the height of the British Empire. The 1911...

, Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 in 1911. A military band plays in the musicians' gallery as award recipients approach the Queen and receive their honour
Honour
Honour or honor is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation...

s, watched by their families and friends.

State banquets

State banquet
Banquet
A banquet is a large meal or feast, complete with main courses and desserts. It usually serves a purpose such as a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration, and is often preceded or followed by speeches in honour of someone....

s also take place in the Ballroom; these formal dinners take place on the first evening of a state visit by a visiting Head of State. On these occasions, 150 or more guests in formal "white tie and decorations", including tiaras for women, may dine off gold plate. The largest and most formal reception at Buckingham Palace takes place every November, when the Queen entertains members of the foreign diplomatic corps resident in London. On this occasion, all the state rooms are in use, as the Royal Family proceed through them beginning through the great north doors of the Picture Gallery. As Nash had envisaged, all the large, double-mirrored doors stand open, reflecting the numerous crystal chandeliers and sconces, causing a deliberate optical illusion of space and light.

Other ceremonies and functions

Smaller ceremonies such as the reception of new ambassadors take place in the "1844 Room". Here too the Queen holds small lunch parties, and often meetings of the Privy Council. Larger lunch parties often take place in the curved and domed Music Room, or the State Dining Room. On all formal occasions the ceremonies are attended by the Yeomen of the Guard
Yeomen of the Guard
The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor...

 in their historic uniforms, and other officers of the court such as the Lord Chamberlain
Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State....

.

Since the bombing of the palace chapel in World War II, royal christenings have sometimes taken place in the Music Room. The Queen's first three children were all baptised here.

The largest functions of the year are the Queen's Garden Parties for up to 8,000 invitees in the Garden.

Modern history

In 1901 the accession of Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 saw new life breathed into the palace. The new King and his wife Queen Alexandra
Alexandra of Denmark
Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward VII of the United Kingdom...

 had always been at the forefront of London high society, and their friends, known as "the Marlborough House
Marlborough House
Marlborough House is a mansion in Westminster, London, in Pall Mall just east of St James's Palace. It was built for Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, the favourite and confidante of Queen Anne. The Duchess wanted her new house to be "strong, plain and convenient and good"...

 Set", were considered to be the most eminent and fashionable of the age. Buckingham Palace—the Ballroom, Grand Entrance, Marble Hall, Grand Staircase, vestibules and galleries redecorated in the Belle epoque cream and gold colour scheme they retain today—once again became a setting for entertaining on a majestic scale. Many people feel King Edward's heavy redecoration of the palace does not complement Nash's original work. However, it has been allowed to remain for over one hundred years.
The last major building work took place during the reign of King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 when, in 1913, Sir Aston Webb redesigned Blore's 1850 East Front to resemble in part Giacomo Leoni
Giacomo Leoni
Giacomo Leoni , also known as James Leoni, was an Italian architect, born in Venice. He was a devotee of the work of Florentine Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti, who had also been an inspiration for Andrea Palladio. Leoni thus served as a prominent exponent of Palladianism in English...

's Lyme Park
Lyme Park
Lyme Park is a large estate located south of Disley, Cheshire, England. It consists of a mansion house surrounded by formal gardens, in a deer park in the Peak District National Park...

 in Cheshire. This new, refaced principal façade (of Portland stone
Portland stone
Portland stone is a limestone from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries consist of beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major...

) was designed to be the backdrop to the Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial (London)
The Victoria Memorial is a sculpture in London, placed at the centre of Queen's Gardens in front of Buckingham Palace and dedicated to Queen Victoria....

, a large memorial statue of Queen Victoria, placed outside the main gates. George V, who had succeeded Edward VII in 1910, had a more serious personality than his father; greater emphasis was now placed on official entertaining and royal duties than on lavish parties. He arranged a series of command performances
Royal Command Performance
For the annual Royal Variety Performance performed in Britain for the benefit of the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund, see Royal Variety Performance...

 featuring jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 musicians such as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (1919) – the first jazz performance for a head of state, Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet
Sidney Bechet was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer.He was one of the first important soloists in jazz , and was perhaps the first notable jazz saxophonist...

, and Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong , nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana....

 (1932) which earned the palace a nomination in 2009 for a (Kind of) Blue Plaque by the Brecon Jazz Festival
Brecon Jazz Festival
Brecon Jazz Festival is a music festival held on an annual basis in the rural surroundings of Brecon, in south Powys, Mid Wales. Normally staged in early August, it plays host to a range of jazz musicians who travel from across the world to take part and to many visiting tourists who are attracted...

 as one of the venues making the greatest contribution to jazz music in the United Kingdom. George V's wife Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

 was a connoisseur
Connoisseur
A connoisseur is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about the fine arts, cuisines, or an expert judge in matters of taste.Modern connoisseurship must be seen along with museums, art galleries and "the cult of originality"...

 of the arts, and took a keen interest in the Royal Collection of furniture and art, both restoring and adding to it. Queen Mary also had many new fixtures and fittings installed, such as the pair of marble Empire-style chimneypieces by Benjamin Vulliamy, dating from 1810, which the Queen had installed in the ground floor Bow Room, the huge low room at the centre of the garden façade. Queen Mary was also responsible for the decoration of the Blue Drawing Room. This room, 69 feet (21 m) long, previously known as the South Drawing Room, has a ceiling designed specially by Nash, coffered with huge gilt console brackets.

A 1999 book published by the Royal Collection Department reported that the palace contained 19 state rooms, 52 principal bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. While this may seem large, it is small when compared to the Russian imperial
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 palaces in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 and at Tsarskoe Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

, the Papal Palace
Apostolic Palace
The Apostolic Palace is the official residence of the Pope, which is located in Vatican City. It is also known as the Sacred Palace, the Papal Palace and the Palace of the Vatican...

 in Rome, the Royal Palace of Madrid
Royal Palace of Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the King of Spain in the city of Madrid, but it is only used for state ceremonies. King Juan Carlos and the Royal Family do not reside in the palace, choosing instead the more modest Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of Madrid...

, the Stockholm Palace
Stockholm Palace
The Stockholm Palace is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. . Stockholm Palace is located on Stadsholmen , in Gamla Stan in the capital, Stockholm...

, or indeed the former Palace of Whitehall
Palace of Whitehall
The Palace of Whitehall was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698 when all except Inigo Jones's 1622 Banqueting House was destroyed by fire...

, and tiny compared to the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

 and Potala Palace
Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara...

. The relative smallness of the palace may be best appreciated from within, looking out over the inner quadrangle. A minor change was made in 1938, in which the north-west pavilion, designed by Nash as a conservatory and altered in 1911–13 to a racquets court, was converted into a swimming pool.
During World War I the palace, then the home of King George V and Queen Mary, escaped unscathed. Its more valuable contents were evacuated to Windsor but the Royal family remained in situ. The King imposed rationing at the palace, much to the dismay of his guests and household. To the King's later regret, David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 persuaded him to go further by ostentatiously locking the wine cellars and refraining from alcohol, to set a good example to the supposedly inebriated working class. The workers continued to imbibe and the King was left unhappy at his enforced abstinence.

The palace fared worse during World War II; it was bombed no less than seven times, the most serious and publicised of which resulted in the destruction of the palace chapel in 1940. Coverage of this event was played in cinemas all over the UK to show the common suffering of rich and poor. One bomb fell in the palace quadrangle while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in residence, and many windows were blown in and the chapel destroyed. War-time coverage of such incidents was severely restricted, however. The King and Queen were filmed inspecting their bombed home, the smiling Queen, as always, immaculately dressed in a hat and matching coat seemingly unbothered by the damage around her. It was at this time the Queen famously declared: "I'm glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End
East End of London
The East End of London, also known simply as the East End, is the area of London, England, United Kingdom, east of the medieval walled City of London and north of the River Thames. Although not defined by universally accepted formal boundaries, the River Lea can be considered another boundary...

 in the face". The Royal family were seen as sharing their subjects' hardship, as The Sunday Graphic
Sunday Graphic
The Sunday Graphic was an English tabloid newspaper published in Fleet Street.The newspaper was founded in 1915 as the Sunday Herald and was later renamed the Illustrated Sunday Herald. In 1927 it changed its name to the Sunday Graphic, becoming the sister paper of the Daily Graphic. In 1931 it...

reported:
On 15 September 1940, known as the Battle of Britain Day
Battle of Britain Day
The Battle of Britain Day is the name given to the large-scale aerial battle that took place on 15 September 1940, during the Battle of Britain ....

, an RAF pilot, Ray Holmes
Ray Holmes
Raymond Towers "Ray" Holmes was a British fighter pilot who was feted by the press as a war hero who saved Buckingham Palace from being severely damaged by German bombing during the Battle of Britain....

 of No. 504 Squadron RAF
No. 504 Squadron RAF
No. 504 Squadron was one of the Special Reserve Squadrons of the Auxiliary Air Force. It was integrated into the AAF proper in 1936. Based at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland, 504 Squadron used a variety of light bombers before being re-tasked to fighters with the Hawker Hurricane in 1939. It subsequently...

 rammed a German bomber he believed was going to bomb the Palace. Holmes had run out of ammunition and made the quick choice to ram it. Holmes bailed out. Both aircraft crashed. In fact the Dornier Do 17
Dornier Do 17
The Dornier Do 17, sometimes referred to as the Fliegender Bleistift , was a World War II German light bomber produced by Claudius Dornier's company, Dornier Flugzeugwerke...

 bomber was empty. It had already been damaged, two of its crew had been killed and the remainder bailed out. Its pilot, Feldwebel
Feldwebel
Feldwebel is a German military rank which has existed since at least the 18th century with usage as a title dating to the Middle Ages. The word Feldwebel is usually translated as sergeant being rated OR-6 in the NATO rank comparison scale, equivalent to the British Army Sergeant and the US Army...

 Robert Zehbe, landed only to suffer mortal wounds from a civilian mob. During the Dornier's descent, it somehow unloaded its bombs, one of which hit the Palace. It then crashed into the forecourt of London Victoria station. The bomber's engine was later exhibited at the Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

 in London. The British pilot became a King's Messenger
Queen's Messenger
The Corps of Queen's Messengers are couriers employed by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They hand-carry secret and important documents to British embassies and consulates around the world. Many Queen's Messengers are retired Army personnel...

 following the war, and died at the age of 90 in 2005.

On VE Day
Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day commemorates 8 May 1945 , the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not...

—8 May 1945—the palace was the centre of British celebrations, with the King, Queen and the Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, and Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon was the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II and the younger daughter of King George VI....

 appearing on the balcony, with the palace's blacked-out windows behind them, to the cheers from a vast crowd in the Mall.

The boy Jones
The boy Jones
Edward Jones , or the boy Jones, as he was called by the British newspapers of the early Victorian era, was a notorious intruder into Buckingham Palace between 1838 and 1841. He later became the subject of a children's book and the film The Mudlark...

 was an intruder who gained entry to the palace on three occasions between 1838 and 1841 as recorded by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 some 40 years later. In 1982, Michael Fagan
Michael Fagan incident
Michael Fagan was an intruder who broke into Buckingham Palace and entered Elizabeth II's bedchamber in the early hours of 9 July 1982. The unemployed father of four children managed to evade electronic alarms as well as both palace and police guards....

, was able to break into the palace twice, and conversed with the Queen on one of these. Reportedly, Her Majesty maintained her composure while the palace police were en route and Fagan made no threatening motions towards the Queen.

The Garden, the Royal Mews and the Mall

At the rear of the palace, is the large and park-like garden which, together with its lake, is the largest private garden in London. Here the Queen hosts her annual garden parties each summer, and also holds large functions to celebrate royal milestones, such as jubilees. Originally landscaped by Capability Brown, it was redesigned by William Townsend Aiton
William Townsend Aiton
William Townsend Aiton was a Scottish botanist.He brought out a second and enlarged edition of the Hortus Kewensis in 1810–1813, a catalogue of the plants at Kew Gardens, the first edition of which was written by his father William Aiton...

 of Kew Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to as Kew Gardens, is 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England. "The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" and the brand name "Kew" are also used as umbrella terms for the institution that runs...

 and John Nash. The artificial lake was completed in 1828 and is supplied with water from the Serpentine
River Westbourne
The River Westbourne is a river in London, England. It flows from Hampstead down through Hyde Park to Sloane Square and into the River Thames at Chelsea...

, a river which runs through Hyde Park
Hyde Park, London
Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, United Kingdom, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner.The park is divided in two by the Serpentine...

.

Adjacent to the palace is the Royal Mews
Royal Mews
A Royal Mews is a mews of the British Royal Family. In London the Royal Mews has occupied two main sites, formerly at Charing Cross, and since the 1820s at Buckingham Palace....

, also designed by Nash, where the royal carriages, including the Gold State Coach
Gold State Coach
The Gold State Coach is an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage used by the British Royal Family. It was built in the London workshops of Samuel Butler in 1762 and has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV...

, are housed. This rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 gilt coach, designed by Sir William Chambers in 1760, has painted panels by G. B. Cipriani
Giovanni Battista Cipriani
Giovanni Battista Cipriani , Italian painter and engraver, Pistoiese by descent, was born in Florence.-History:His first lessons were given him by a Florentine of English descent, Ignatius Hugford, and then under Anton Domenico Gabbiani...

. It was first used for the State Opening of Parliament by George III in 1762 and is used by the monarch only for coronations or jubilee celebrations. Also housed in the Mews are the carriage horses used in royal ceremonial processions.

The Mall, a ceremonial approach route to the palace, was designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1911 as part of a grand memorial to Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

. It extends from Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch is a large office building in London which incorporates an archway providing road and pedestrian access between The Mall, which extends to the South-West, and Trafalgar Square to the North-East. It was designed by Sir Aston Webb, constructed by John Mowlem & Co and completed in 1912...

, up around the Victoria Memorial
Victoria Memorial (London)
The Victoria Memorial is a sculpture in London, placed at the centre of Queen's Gardens in front of Buckingham Palace and dedicated to Queen Victoria....

, bounded by the Canada Gate, South Africa Gate and Australia Gate, to the palace forecourt
Forecourt
In architecture a forecourt is an open area in front of a structure's entrance.In archaeology, forecourt is the name given to the area in front of certain types of chamber tomb...

. This route is used by the cavalcades and motorcades of all visiting heads of state, and by the Royal Family on state occasions such as the annual State Opening of Parliament
State Opening of Parliament
In the United Kingdom, the State Opening of Parliament is an annual event that marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is held in the House of Lords Chamber, usually in November or December or, in a general election year, when the new Parliament first assembles...

 as well as Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and the Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment's colours, or flags, were used as rallying points...

 each year.

21st century: Royal use and public access

Every year some 50,000 invited guests are entertained at garden parties, receptions, audiences and banquets. The Garden Parties
Garden party
A garden party is a social gathering with food provided, in the open in a park or a garden. An event described as a garden party is usually more formal than other similar gatherings, which may be called just parties, picnics, barbecues, etc,...

, usually three, 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 (daily during the summer months; every other day during the winter).

The palace, like Windsor Castle, is owned by the British state. It is not the monarch's personal property, unlike Sandringham House
Sandringham House
Sandringham House is a country house on of land near the village of Sandringham in Norfolk, England. The house is privately owned by the British Royal Family and is located on the royal Sandringham Estate, which lies within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.-History and current...

 and Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle is a large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is located near the village of Crathie, west of Ballater and east of Braemar. Balmoral has been one of the residences of the British Royal Family since 1852, when it was purchased by Queen Victoria and her...

. Many of the contents from Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and...

 and St. James's Palace are known collectively as the Royal Collection; owned by the Sovereign, they can, on occasions, be viewed by the public at the Queen's Gallery
Queen's Gallery
The Queen's Gallery is a public art gallery located at Buckingham Palace, home of the British monarch, in London. It exhibits works of art from the Royal Collection The Queen's Gallery is a public art gallery located at Buckingham Palace, home of the British monarch, in London. It exhibits works of...

, near the Royal Mews. Unlike the palace and the castle, the gallery is open continually and displays a changing selection of items from the collection. The rooms containing the Queen's Gallery are on the site of the former chapel, which was damaged by one of the seven bombs to fall on the palace during World War II. The palace's state room
State room
A state room in a large European mansion is usually one of a suite of very grand rooms which were designed to impress. The term was most widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were the most lavishly decorated in the house and contained the finest works of art...

s have been open to the public during August and September since 1993. The money raised in entry fees was originally put towards the rebuilding of Windsor Castle following the 1992 fire which destroyed many of its state rooms.

In May 2009, in response to a request from the Royal Family to the government for money for a backlog of repairs to the palace, a group of MPs on the Public Accounts Committee proposed that in return for the extra £4 million in annual funds requested, the palace be open to the public more than the 60 days it is now, as well as when members of the Royal Family are in residence. The British Government currently provides £15 million yearly for the palace's upkeep.

Thus, Buckingham Palace is a symbol and home of the British monarchy, an art gallery and tourist attraction. Behind the gilded railings and gates which were made by the Bromsgrove Guild
Bromsgrove Guild
The Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts was a company of modern artists and designers associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded by Walter Gilbert. The guild worked in metal, wood, plaster, bronze, tapestry, glass and other mediums....

 and Webb's famous façade which has been described in a book published by the Royal Collection as looking "like everybody's idea of a palace"; is not only the weekday home of the Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 and Prince Philip
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

 but also the London residence of the Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York KG GCVO , is the second son, and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

 and the Earl
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG GCVO is the third son and fourth child of Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh...

 and Countess of Wessex. The palace also houses the offices of the Royal Household
Royal Household
A Royal Household in ancient and medieval monarchies formed the basis for the general government of the country as well as providing for the needs of the sovereign and his relations....

 and is the workplace of 450 people.

See also


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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