Buckingham Palace Facts
If you want to be a king for a day, you might want to consider visiting Britain’s many royal residencies. Hidden in Green Park’s foliage, Buckingham Palace serves as an events place and summer retreat house for the British monarchs. Beyond this, it also provides an opportunity for locals to experience the splendor of Britain’s royalty. Within its lavish walls, you will surely find something to admire. Discover more about this landmark’s beauty and secrets with these Buckingham Palace facts.
- The Buckingham Palace was built in 1703.
- With a total of 775 rooms, Buckingham Palace stretches 108 meters long, 24 meters high, and 120 meters deep.
- The palace’s total land area spans 77,000 square meters.
- The Buckingham Palace’s grounds alone covers 39 acres.
- Valuation experts claim that Buckingham Palace’s net worth amounts to $1.55 billion.
- When it was made, Buckingham Palace was first named the Buckingham House.
- Buckingham Palace serves as the administrative residence and headquarters of the United Kingdom’s monarch.
- You will find Buckingham Palace at the heart of London, in the City of Westminster.
- Buckingham Palace is a center of the country’s royal hospitality and state occasions.
- Architect William Winde originally constructed the Buckingham Palace as a property for the Duke of Buckingham.
- King George III bought Buckingham Palace in 1761 for Queen Charlotte.
- After King George’s ownership of the place, Buckingham Palace started to be known as The Queen’s House.
- Buckingham Palace became Queen Victoria’s residence.
- The royal family does not own Buckingham Palace privately even though most of Britain’s most important events and engagements happen there.
- The Buckingham Palace’s trust and ownership are in the hands of the Crown Estates.
- Buckingham Palace is the most expensive leader residence in the world.
- Around 400 people work at Buckingham Palace, each serving unique tasks.
- The Buckingham Palace specifically hired people to look after 300 clocks in the palace.
- Buckingham Palace has its own post office, jeweler’s workshop, and a clinic complete with tools for a doctor’s surgery.
- The Netflix series The Crown portrays many parts of Buckingham Palace, but the cast never got the chance to actually film there.
The Buckingham Palace was not originally built for a Queen or King.
In 1703, the Duke of Buckingham John Sheffield built a new house for himself from an old property in Westminster. In 1761, King George III bought the property to serve as a private home for his wife and children. Located near the royal family’s official residence at the St James’ Palace, the Buckingham Palace served as their private retreat.
In 1837, Queen Victoria sat on the throne, making the palace her official residence. Since then, the original structure of the place has gone through several renovations. How’s that for neat Buckingham Palace facts?
The walls of the Buckingham Palace are fossils from 200 million years ago.
What’s amazing about the palace is that despite its age, it has this air of sophistication everywhere you look. The zoolitic limestones which make up the walls may have something to do with that, too. These limestones are made of small spherical clumps of sedimentary rocks.
According to research, this rock is formed from the mineralized remains of tiny organisms that can be found in grains of sand and grit. With that, the tiny fossils that make up the palace’s walls date back to around 200 million years ago. Similarly, other famous landmarks like the Pentagon and the Empire State Building use these rocks for their structures.
The Buckingham Palace suffered damages from World War 2.
When the war broke out, King George IV sat on the royal family’s throne. The British government wanted the King and his family to flee London, but King George did not heed their advice. Because of this, Queen Elizabeth and their kids did not leave the palace as well. According to the Queen, the children would not leave unless she does, and she would not go anywhere without the King.
Since the King didn’t want to abandon the country regardless of the circumstances, the royal family stayed in the palace together. She had a firm resolve to stay with King George, so she practiced pistol firing with stray rats as targets. Before the surrender of the Axis Powers, German bombers successfully scored nine hits on the palace.
You will see the masterworks of art at Buckingham Palace.
With many masterpieces of art geniuses in the world, the palace is an artist’s haven. The royal palace holds a fine collection of tapestries, sculptures, and paintings. As you’d expect from royalty, the palace also had the original works of Rubens and Rembrandt.
If you happen to tour inside, the amount of art you will see is just a fraction of Buckingham’s gigantic treasury. You will definitely see the occasional familiar pieces but there’s more to that than what you are allowed to view. Among the list of famous and remarkable art pieces is a painting of the coronation of Queen Victoria.
A commoner once snuck inside Buckingham Palace and stole the Queen's underwear.
In 1838, Edward Jones, also known as “Boy Jones” snuck inside the palace and stole a few items – including some of Queen Victoria’s underwear. Reports say that during Jones’s teenage years, he developed an obsession with Queen Victoria, which eventually led to his questionable deed. According to a BBC biographer, he gained access to the palace through opened windows and unlocked doors. Back in the day, the palace didn’t have royal security to keep intruders from the vicinity. After his break-in, he was apprehended and sent overseas as a form of punishment. Later on, he was able to temporarily return to the United Kingdom. Authorities also found out that he had been inside the palace many times without being caught. Now, there’s one for weird Buckingham Palace facts.
Buckingham Palace houses hundreds of people.
Although we know the Buckingham Palace as a royal residence, it’s not only a place for the monarchs. Not only does it house Queen Elizabeth and her family, but more than 800 staff call it home. With 188 staff rooms, 52 guest and royal bedrooms, 19 staterooms, 78 bathrooms, and 92 offices, someone has to help maintain its prestige.
That said, Buckingham has more than enough space and rooms for the Royal family to occupy alone. We can only imagine the amount of work that needs to be done to maintain its pristine condition. These Buckingham Palace facts are just amazing in their own way.
The Buckingham Palace is only open for public visits during summer.
Since it’s the royal family’s residence, it’s not practical for its doors to always be open to the public. However, the Palace State Rooms stay open for visits between August and September. When the Queen’s off for summer holidays in Scotland, the public is allowed to visit the palace.
There's a trick to know if the Queen is at Buckingham Palace.
It’s not every day that you get to see the Queen. If you’re planning to test your luck, there’s a signal that will increase your chances of seeing her. Your luck will be determined by the waving flag in the palace. If you see the Royal Standard flag, that’s a good thing. Stay for a while, and maybe you’d get a glimpse of the Queen.
On the flip side, the Union Flag indicates that she’s not there at all. The Royal Standard flag will also be seen on her aircraft and cars when she’s on official travels. Definitely one of the Buckingham Palace facts to keep in mind if you want to visit.
Buckingham Palace is like a village of its own.
Besides its sprawling grounds and throne room, a lot of things happen inside its walls. Beyond staff and labor, the palace houses community- with each individual fulfilling their own set of roles. Inside the palace, you will find a police station, a post office, a cinema, a pool, and many more! More interestingly, the palace holds its own ATM in its basement.
The first US President to visit Buckingham Palace was Woodrow Wilson.
In December 1918, former President Woodrow Wilson visited Buckingham Palace with his wife, First Lady Edith Wilson. On the way to a Paris conference, they just squeezed in a visit to the iconic palace. Upon their arrival, King George V held a gathering and threw a banquet for the president.This event also marked the beginning of the tradition where the head of state or the president of the US visits the royal residence every now and then. After this, a series of visits to the palace then became normal. One particularly memorable instance during these visits was in 1977, when then-President Jimmy Carter broke protocol when he gave Queen Elizabeth a kiss on the lips.
The Buckingham Palace was a Girl Guide Headquarters back in the day.
Before she became Queen, Princess Elizabeth was active in the Girl Guides, much like the Girl Scouts in the US. Together with her sister, Princess Margaret, and her troops, they organized the company at their royal home. Between the years 1937 and 1939, the Girl Guide Company held their meetings at the palace grounds and the summerhouse. Out of the 30 Girl Guides members, two were princesses, while the rest were the children of palace employees and other royal families. Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, Princess Anne, led her own Girl Guide Company during her time in 1959. The organization carried on until 1963, eventually coming to a halt in 1963 when Princess Anne went to boarding school.
About 60,000 sandwiches are consumed in Buckingham Palace every year.
The Queen hosts a lot of parties every year, with at least three garden parties held in the palace’s private garden every summer. Whether you know it or not, no royal feast is ever complete without sandwiches. On average, people consume around 20,000 sandwiches for every party in the Buckingham Palace.
The original architect of Buckingham Palace was fired.
Architect John Nash led the construction and design of the palace that we know now. However, he went over the planned budget, which led to his forced resignation. If you’d take the time to notice the detailing of the palace, you’ll realize and get the idea of why he went over the fund allocation. Thanks to his mistake, we still have the palace that we know and love in all its beautiful glory.
The Buckingham Palace has amazing features.
One of the least-known Buckingham Palace facts is that the royal residence has secret tunnels. The place is built on top of a series of intricate passageways that are not open to the public. At one point, King George VI even found a man living in one of these tunnels. Apart from these controversial areas, the palace also boasts a full-sized court for tennis as well as its own private lake.
The balcony at the Buckingham Palace has been a witness of royal events.
Ever since Queen Victoria started the practice of appearing on the balcony, this part of the palace has featured in many of the royal family events. The family appears regularly during Trooping the Color, which is a yearly event for the sovereign’s birthday. Invitees of the event include the Queen’s descendants and other family members. The balcony is also part of many royal weddings, jubilees, major state occasions, and coronations. The very first royal couple to kiss on the balcony in front of the public crowd was Lady Diana and Prince Charles. However, not every royal couple had the chance to appear on the balcony on their wedding day, since some marry outside of their London residence.
The waving of the royals at the Buckingham Palace's balcony has been a tradition.
Over the years, the royal family developed a signature balcony wave that Queen Victoria started in the year 1851. Ever since, waving at the balcony became a rite of passage for the new and reigning monarch to greet the public for the very first time.
The only steadfast rule that they have to follow is that no unofficial member of the royal family could do this gesture – which means no girlfriends or boyfriends. If you have no ring, there’s no need for you to be standing there next to them. How’s that for interesting Buckingham Palace facts?
The Buckingham Palace has a familiar ceremony which is the Changing of the Guard.
The palace has regiments of foot guards dressed in furry, tall hats known as bearskins as well as red jackets. The guards make sure that the St. James Palace and Buckingham Palace are safe. When the foot guards come on duty, the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place.
In a process that lasts around 45 minutes, the palace holds the Changing of the Guard every day at the palace’s forecourt at 11:30 in the morning. However, some guards are only stationed at the palace for ceremonial purposes. One thing to note in these Buckingham Palace facts is that when the Queen is inside, there would be 4 guards stationed at the front. Meanwhile, there would only be 2 when she’s away.
Buckingham Palace's grandest State Room is the White Drawing Room.
The Palace State Rooms primarily serve the purpose of entertaining and receiving guests. Each room has its own function, depending on the occasion. The rooms reflect King George IV’s taste, since he commissioned its architectural design. Throughout the palace, you will find 19 State Rooms, each prestigious in its own way. However, the White Drawing Room is the grandest of them all.
Before you enter this room, you will need to pass through an enormous door concealed by mirrors and side cabinets. Inside, the room holds magnificent French and English porcelain and furniture. To top it all off, it has remarkable pieces of wood pedestals and bronze-mounted cabinets. The White Drawing Room also serves as the holding room for the Queen and the Royal Family before any official occasion in the palace.
The Buckingham Palace will not hold events for 2020.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, activities at Buckingham Palace have all been officially postponed. Although Queen Elizabeth II will begin her work at the palace again this month, the palace will remain closed for visitors due to safety concerns.
There are 5 regiments of the Queen's foot guards at Buckingham Palace.
Even though palace guards all look identical, you can tell them apart by minor details in their uniforms. You can identify their infantry through the placement of their tunic buttons. The 5 regiments of the palace foot guards consist of the Welsh Guards, Grenadier Guards, Irish Guards, Coldstream Guards, and Scots Guards.
Although they have a daily changing ceremony, they cannot mount in extremely harsh weather. When it’s winter or autumn, the changing of the guard only happens on alternate days. It’s also surprising to know that the guards do not wear their red coats all year round. Instead, they wear their grey coats during cold or wet weather.
You can do a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace.
Although it’s unlikely that you will see the Queen on your webcam, the palace virtual tour will allow you to see Buckingham in its glory. Among the Scottish and English castles and palaces that are open to the public virtually, Buckingham Palace is one of the few. The best part of it all is that you can have a virtual tour for free. The tour will give you access to its grand staircase, blue drawing room, throne room, and many more.
You can send a letter to the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
The official royal website has announced that you can send letters addressed to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA. The website suggests that you write it formally with proper opening and closing statements. Although it’s rare for the Queen to answer all the letters that come her way, she does spend a portion of her day reading all the letters that come from the public. If you’re lucky to receive a response from her, it’s most likely that it’s her private secretary or lady-in-waiting who did the writing on her behalf.
The uniforms of the Buckingham Palace guards serve very practical reasons.
The guards at the palace have these iconic red uniforms that trace back from many years ago. At the time when the uniforms were made, the color red was one of the country’s cheapest dyes, with the royal family choosing it to save a few pounds for the cost of these uniforms. It also serves as a military strategy, as red is a difficult color to see from a distance. Thus, enemies had a hard time identifying how many guards and British soldiers they will be facing head-on.
The Buckingham Palace receives at least 300 letters every day for the Queen.
According to a source, the palace receives at least 300 letters every day which could be an overwhelming amount for the Queen to handle. The letters range from the public sending their love to official correspondence and important invitations from across the world.
All the letters the palace receives are arranged by the Queen’s secretarial staff. Upon sorting, some will be sent to the right British government agency. Others will have the chance to receive a direct reply from the Queen herself. For one instance, a 4-year old invited the Queen for a cup of tea, which prompted the Queen to thank her through a letter of her own. This is definitely one of the more heartwarming Buckingham Palace facts.
Windsor Castle is 20 miles away from the Palace.
When the Queen is in London, she spends most of her time at Buckingham Palace. During the weekends, however, the Queen and her husband lounge at the Windsor Castle at Windsor, Berkshire, England. The palace and the Windsor Castle lie 20 miles apart, with the road distance spanning about 22.3 miles. For over 900 years, Windsor has been a fortress for the royal family as one of the world’s largest occupied castles.
Buckingham Palace hires only the best soldiers in the country.
If you think that the royal guards perform an easy job of just standing and guarding the castle, you got it all wrong. To be part of the royal guard post, they have to be highly trained and qualified soldiers. Only those who have fought for the country with great distinction can qualify for the job. Traditionally, the guards will have limited chances to move.
Of course, they can move every ten minutes or so by marching or walking down in their sentry box. The guards will have 2 hours of duty time with only four hours of rest before they come back to their post. These guards have been a permanent fixture in the long line of the royal family bloodline. Thanks to the initiative of King Henry VII, the palace gates have been in safe hands for over 500 years.
Despite the rise of social media, Buckingham Palace likes to keep things traditional.
When major events occur in the palace, the staff places notices and posters outside the palace for the information of the mass public. Even though social media and online platforms are now the norm, the palace still likes to keep their traditional ways of sending out information. This way, the public can stay in the know of the palace’s happenings without social media.
Buckingham Palace suffered a great deal during the war.
For one, a German bomb destroyed the Palace chapel. The footage of the bombing was constantly shown in cinemas in the UK to make the people realize how the war affected both the rich and the poor. King George V even enforced food and drinks rationing during World War I.
The palace staff and the royals had to adhere to the schedules on when wine and food could be served.
You can tour Buckingham Palace during the summer.
While the palace is not generally open to the public, you still have the chance to be within its walls during the summer. For a corresponding admission fee, you can have limited access to its State Rooms, artwork collections, and its garden.
Buckingham Palace has been around for 317 years.
From its humble beginnings as a residence to its transformation to a palace, Buckingham has become one of Britain’s biggest landmarks. For over 317 years, the palace has been the official London residence of reigning Queens and monarchies. Once the travel restrictions are put to ease, Buckingham will once again be filled with tourists and locals that admire and take pride in the history of Great Britain’s royal family.