The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace have now opened to the public for the summer 2015 season. An annual occurrence, the opening is an excellent opportunity to tour one of the world’s few royal palaces that is still in use as a royal residence while experiencing the grandeur and learning about the living history of Britain’s most famous home.
The State Rooms are the public rooms of the Palace, designed for monarchs to receive, reward and entertain subjects and visiting dignitaries. Today the State Rooms continue to be used by The Queen and members of the Royal Family to receive and entertain guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions.
There are 19 of these rooms all together. They are furnished with many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto, sculpture by Canova and plenty more. Much of the interiors and what’s on view reflect the tastes of George IV (reigned from 1820 to 1830) who commissioned architect John Nash to transform what was then known as “Buckingham House” into the royal palace that remains today.
As in years past, a tour of the State Rooms is presented with a special theme. For 2015 that theme is “A Royal Welcome” with displays throughout the State Rooms that recreate the settings for the many official occasions that fill the palace calendar such as State Visits, receptions, Garden Parties, Investitures and private audiences.
For the first time ever, visitors to the Summer Opening will enter the State Rooms through the Grand Entrance, used by those who come to the Palace at the invitation of The Queen, including Heads of State and Prime Ministers, as would be done during an official visit.
Once inside guests can expect to be awed by the Palace Ballroom, which is transformed for a State Banquet with glittering silver-gilt from George IV’s Grand Service and to find out how people are welcomed to Buckingham Palace and what goes on behind-the-scenes to create the magic and magnificence of a State Visit – from the dresses designed, to the ingredients and porcelain chosen for a State Banquet.
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to the public until the 27th of September. They are open daily 9:30am to 7pm (last admission is at 4:45pm) until the end of August and then daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last admission 15:45) until the end of September. A typical visit lasts between two and three hours.
The entrance to the State Rooms is located on Buckingham Palace Road (look for the big white tents). The nearest London Underground stations are at St James’s Park, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria and Green Park (all about the same distance and walkable).