What’s there to see inside Buckingham Palace?Buckingham Palace is the home of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, during the majority of the year, and the State Rooms inside are only open over the summer months, which the Royal Family usually spend in Scotland. You’ll see several of the rooms used daily by the Queen, or on special occasions such as State Banquets, such as the White Drawing Room, the Throne Room, and the Ballroom. Visitors will also see the Picture Gallery, which features a changing array of masterpieces from the Royal collection. Some artists featured include Rembrandt, Titian, and Rubens. In addition, every summer there are special exhibitions. In 2019, the special exhibition is themed on Queen Victoria’s Palace and celebrates the 200th anniversary of her birth.
What’s in the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery?The Queen’s Gallery is open year-round and features rotating exhibitions of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings, furniture, and photographs. For example, until the end of April 2019, the Queen’s Gallery featured an exhibition about the Russian royal family, and from May 2019 until mid-October the exhibition will be focused on the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. The Royal Mews (‘mews’ being another word for stables or carriage houses) is home to the state coaches and carriages, as well as around 30 horses who are used to draw the coaches on state occasions and state cars.
Will we get to see the Queen?...Maybe. It’s possible. You’re unlikely to see her during the summer opening of the State Rooms since the opening is deliberately timed to happen when she’s away at one of the Scottish palaces. If you’re around Buckingham Palace throughout the rest of the year, you might see her leaving for an engagement, but there’s no way to know for sure. If you’re seriously hoping to see her or any other member of the Royal Family then your best bet is to keep an eye on www.royal.uk/future-engagements to see if any of them are attending events near you.
How long should I plan for my visit?A visit to the State Rooms takes around 2 and a half hours, although if you’re not interested in listening to each stop of the multimedia guide then you can move through at a slightly faster pace. The multimedia tour at The Royal Mews takes about 45 minutes, and the one at The Queen’s Gallery takes about an hour. If you’re intending to see all the available exhibits at Buckingham Palace then you should plan at least 5 hours for your visit.
Can I take my children on the tour?Children are welcome in all parts of the palace. They might not enjoy the Queen’s Gallery, as the exhibitions aren’t designed with children in mind and aren’t interactive. They are more likely to enjoy wandering through the State Rooms pretending they’re princes or princesses and imagining the Queen drinking her tea in the White Drawing Room, plus there’s a child-friendly multimedia tour, narrated by Alice the footman and Rex the corgi! There’s also a family pavilion, open during the summer State Room opening times, with costumes to trip on and toys for under 5’s to play with. Young children will also enjoy the Royal Mews, as they’ll get to see the Queen’s horses and there are several interactive exhibits - they can dress up in livery, practice tacking up a wooden horse, and sit inside a replica royal carriage! There are also special family tours of the Royal Mews at 1.30pm on Saturday and Sunday from April to October. Strollers can’t be taken into the State Rooms, but baby carriers and hip seats can be borrowed free of charge.
Can I take photographs?Photography inside the State Rooms isn’t permitted. You can take photos inside the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery, and within the grounds and gardens outside the palace building.