Buckingham Palace Tour

September 23, 2007 at 1:20 pm | Posted in London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 3 Comments
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The seat of the monarchy, a former country estate, Buckingham Palace, is (partially) open to the public during the summer months while the Queen is out of town.

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The tour offers the chance to view a normally hidden world. My childhood fantasies of grand and enormous palaces were sent tumbling as it seems to be a relatively small interior (granted we’re only privy to a fraction). Conversely, the design did live up to the imaginative hype.

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At the end of the tour I was more struck by the concealed depth the grass and wooded area behind Buckingham Palace as it is feels substanitlaly greater than the exterior geography. Then again compared to the days when all of Hyde Park was a royal hunting ground all of this must be quite the step down.

With ticket in hand (probably best to prebook) you are shepherded in large groups through the security check and the guide room where you’ll pick up your audio tours. These are your standard audio tour packages that you listen to as you progress through the various rooms and you’ll have the option to hear more on certain topics depending on how much time and interest you have available. Personally, I found the audio tour to be quite informative with the voices pleasant and easy to listen to as you walk around.

In addition to the wealth of design, craftwork and artwork that makes this tour a highlight is a special exhibit on the Queen’s wedding. Now topics like the wedding dress aren’t overly fascinating so I skipped this section quickly and moved on but many others were taking an in-depth approach.

Throughout the tour you will see excellent representations of art and finely decorated doors, walls, cups – pretty much everything. Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures inside the building and are restricted to the gardens for your photographic needs. Given the number of people taking the tour you would think it would result in a crush. Thankfully, this is not the case and there were only a few experiences with gridlock and these were at the beginning and bypassed easily enough.

At the end of the main tour and after dropping off your headsets you enter the palace gardens and on your wander out you will of course be met by the mandatory gift shop and the ever present tourism item (anything + Union Jack/ Royal = £). I took this opportunity to speak with one of the multitude of guides. It turns out most are students working in the palace over their break to earn some cash and a great reference. Explains why they all look so young. In her case she was a history teacher and had enjoyed her time working here and would be coming back next year. PR or praise, I’ll leave that to you but she appeared genuine. The guides receive a few weeks of training beforehand and they learn about ‘everything’. I’m not sure that’s the case but give it a shot and ask questions!

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The gardens themselves are a pleasant walk and before you know it you find yourself out the back gate and into the harsh glare of sun on concrete that is this part of Victoria.

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If you are in London during the summer opening take the opportunity to come and visit. The Buckingham Palace tour gets a definite recommendation from me.

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3 Comments »

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  1. […] Overall, the palace should be on your list of places to visit in Edinburgh and is quite the contrast to Buckingham Palace. […]

  2. Have you visited the Mews? It’s the “garage” for Buckingham Palace, where all the horses, carriages, and limos are housed. Good fun — especially getting to see the state carriages up close.

  3. I used to walk past the Mews on the way to work but totally forgot about visiting. Now added it to the list. Thanks for the tip!


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