Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The King, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every summer.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high.
Buckingham Palace today
Today, Buckingham Palace is very much a working building and the centrepiece of the UK’s constitutional monarchy, serving as the venue for many royal events and ceremonies from entertaining foreign Heads of States to celebrating achievement at Investitures and receptions.
More than 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as guests to State banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties. Her Majesty also holds weekly audiences with the Prime Minister and receives newly-appointed foreign Ambassadors at Buckingham Palace.
Receptions are held at the Palace throughout the year to recognise the work of industry, government, charities, sport, the Commonwealth and many more areas of life.
Buckingham Palace is often a focal point for significant national celebrations and commemorations.
In 2002, a music concert was staged in the garden of Buckingham Palace to mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, which included a unforgettable performance of ‘God Save The Queen’ by Brian May from the roof of the Palace and at Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 members of the public were invited to have a special picnic in the Buckingham Palace garden. To mark The Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022, there was a special 'Party at the Palace', which included a spectacular drone show.
The balcony of Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous in the world. The first recorded Royal balcony appearance took place in 1851, when Queen Victoria stepped onto it during celebrations for the opening of the Great Exhibition. Since then, Royal Balcony appearances have marked many occasions from The Queen’s annual official birthday celebrations to watch the RAF Flypast at the end of Trooping the Colour, Royal Weddings, as well as special events of national significance such as the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Whilst Buckingham Palace is seen as the administrative hub of the Monarchy, it is also very much a family home, in addition to holding The Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews. The Queen gave birth to Prince Charles and Prince Andrew at the Palace, and to this day notice of royal births and deaths are still attached to the front railings for members of the public to read. The christenings of The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York and Prince William took place in the Music Room and many Royal Weddings have been celebrated at Buckingham Palace, most recently The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s.
The offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and their immediate family, such as the Private Secretary’s Office and the Privy Purse and Treasurer’s Office are located at Buckingham Palace.
History of Buckingham Palace
George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James's Palace, where many court functions were held. Buckingham House became known as the Queen's House, and 14 of George III's 15 children were born there.
Queen Charlotte with her Two Eldest Sons
George IV, on his accession in 1820, decided to reconstruct the house into a pied-à-terre, using it for the same purpose as his father George III.
As work progressed, and as late as the end of 1826, The King had a change of heart. With the assistance of his architect, John Nash, he set about transforming the house into a palace. Parliament agreed to a budget of £150,000, but the King pressed for £450,000 as a more realistic figure.Nash retained the main block but doubled its size by adding a new suite of rooms on the garden side facing west. Faced with mellow Bath stone, the external style reflected the French neo-classical influence favoured by George IV.
The remodelled rooms are the State and semi-State Rooms, which remain virtually unchanged since Nash's time.