Have you ever fancied peeking behind the doors of Buckingham Palace and indulging in a delicious afternoon tea fit for a queen? For eight weeks of the year, in August and September, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are opened to the public so that we can catch a glimpse of royal life.
Boundless members can use an exclusive SuperBreak Buckingham Palace offer to go all out on a stately visit to the capital, taking in the splendour of the 19 State Rooms and the delights of the Palace Garden, topped off with a luxury hotel stay in one of London’s smartest postcodes, with full breakfast and afternoon tea upon arrival at the 4-star Millennium Bailey’s Hotel in London’s Kensington.
To ready yourself for the Buckingham Palace experience, we’ve collated some fascinating facts about this most jaw-dropping of buildings...
1. It wasn’t always a royal palace
Construction of Buckingham House (as it was then called) was started in 1703, but it wasn’t until 1761 that it passed into Royal hands. George III paid £21,000 (that’s £3 million in today’s money) for the House as a present to his wife Queen Charlotte. Renamed The Queen's House, it was used as a private retreat for the royal couple.
2. It’s big – really big!
Buckingham Palace has a whopping 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
3. Queen Victoria was the first Royal to properly live there
Queen Victoria, who held the crown from 1837 until her death in 1901, became the first British monarch to use the Palace as their official residence when she moved there in the first year of her reign. Her predecessor, George IV, had commissioned the architect John Nash to renovate Buckingham House into a palace in the 1820s but died before the work was completed.
4. It’s been bombed nine times
During World War II, Buckingham Palace suffered nine direct bomb hits, with the most serious destroying the Palace chapel in 1940.
5. It’s easy to tell if the Queen is in residence
If the Royal Standard flag is flying over the Palace, then she’s at home. If the Union Flag flies, then she’s away!
6. The Palace gardens are the largest private gardens in London
Covering 40 acres, they boast a helicopter landing pad and a boating lake!
7. It has a LOT of windows
The Palace has 760 windows, all of which are cleaned every six weeks.
8. George VI started the balcony tradition
We’ve become accustomed over the years to the sight of the Royal family waving to the crowds on the famous Palace balcony. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to do it in 1851, but the tradition of the family making an appearance to commemorate the end of the Trooping the Colour celebrations started with George VI in 1937.
9. Four royals have been christened there
The Palace’s music room has been used, over the years, for four Royal christenings – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince William have all been christened there by the Archbishop of Canterbury. (And Charles and Andrew were actually born in the Palace.)
10. Some of history’s most famous people have stayed there
Over 50,000 guests a year pass through the gates of the Palace, at occasions of all sizes, from small lunches to large-scale receptions. Notable figures to have visited include Gandhi, Neil Armstrong and Mozart.