Buckingham Palace, London on sunny morning
Dom Bewley

Fascinating Buckingham Palace facts

Buckingham Palace with red tulips in the foreground
Buckingham Palace, London

Seeing Buckingham Palace is a must for anybody visiting London. Whether you're a massive fan of the Royal Family, or you simply want to see one of Britain's biggest historical landmarks, you'll find something to love inside its large, lavish walls.

Buckingham Palace is located in Westminster, in the heart of central London, and with St. James's Park and Green Park as its backyards. It serves as the official London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom.

The palace has a long and colorful history - it wouldn't be British without one. So, without further ado, here are some fascinating facts about Buckingham Palace you may not have known.

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When was Buckingham Palace built?

Buckingham Palace was originally known as Buckingham House, and was built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham. King George III then bought it in 1761. Construction of the 775-room palace we see today began in 1825, and it's been the official London residence for all reigning monarchs since Queen Victoria took up residence in 1837.

The Palace went way over budget

The original Buckingham House was transformed by the esteemed architect John Nash into what it is today. However, he accidentally went over budget and was fired for overspending. Take a look at the gilded detailing and it's no surprise.

Nash transformed Buckingham House - as it used to be known - into the grandest possible version of itself, rebuilding the two east wings and adding in the triumphal arch, originally for ceremonial processions into the palace. That arch now lives at Marble Arch - yes, that's the Marble Arch.

After Nash, a new architect called Edward Blore completed the work on the palace.

Which British Royal was the first to live in Buckingham Palace?

Before the palace as we know it was built, the history of the site goes as far back as the Middle Ages, when the site formed part of the Manor of Ebury. (We haven't heard of it either.) It was used for different buildings by different people, including Henry VIII back in the 16th Century. However, once King George IV's planned work was completed, he never even had the chance to call it home.

Queen Victoria moved in in 1837, and was the first British Royal to live in Buckingham Palace, followed by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Throughout WW2, the royals refused to leave the palace

London was bombed heavily throughout World War Two. And, with Buckingham Palace being the cultural landmark it is, it became a massive target.

Despite being advised to leave for their own safety, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth kept calm and carried on, refusing to leave - even though the palace was hit nine times over the course of the war. 

There are over 700 rooms in the palace

Buckingham Palace has hosted thousands of visitors throughout the years. And with a whopping 775 rooms, it's not hard to see how. 

Among the 775 rooms are 19 grand State Rooms for events, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, and 92 offices for the King, Royal Family, and staff.

Of the State Rooms, the Throne Room is for ceremonial and official events - and the Prince and Princess of Wales took their wedding photos there. Most opulent is the White Room, where the King receives guests.

When are the State Rooms open?

The State Rooms are only open to the public in the summer.

Since Buckingham Palace is very much still a functioning royal residence, throwing its doors open to the public isn't always practical. That's why they only open up during August and September when Queen Elizabeth heads off to Scotland for the summer holidays.

Of course, that means you won't catch a glimpse of the Queen at any point of your visit.

What kind of art can be found in Buckingham Palace?

Buckingham Palace is home to a vast collection of masterworks, including paintings, sculptures, and other beautiful objects. Some of the most widely recognizable pieces include works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Canaletto. The Royal Collection Trust, which manages the art collection, offers tours of the palace where visitors can view many of these masterpieces

One of the highlights is the massive painting of Queen Victoria's coronation, which has to be seen to be believed.

A massive fan of the royals managed to break in three times

As a kid, little Edward Jones was pretty fascinated by the Royal Family. So much so that he managed to sneak into the residence three times. Well, at the very least he was caught three times.

He managed to steal Queen Victoria's underwear (!), as well as food from the kitchens. He even boasted to the press that he'd sat on her throne.

Without breaking in, it's possible to visit the Throne Room and see the three gilded royal seats for yourself. 

Does King Charles III live in Buckingham Palace?

As head of 'The Firm', King Charles III prefers to be based at Clarence House (also in London), but doesn't live at Buckingham Palace. He does carry out official engagements there, however.

Tradition tends to dictate that the monarch lives at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II and the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh lived in the private apartments on the north side of the Palace. Other members of the Royal Family have lived in rooms on the upper floors of the north and east sides.

Royal Family members, such Princess Anne, and Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex, hold private apartments at the palace but don't live there full-time. So it's unlikely you'll bump into any of them making a cup of tea in the kitchen while you're visiting!

Over 800 people work for the Royal Household, and a lucky few do live in suitably posh apartments (which are said to be lovely, but obviously not as grand as their royal bosses'). There are also staff quarters for a range of household workers, some of whom might live there too. 


A red, yellow and blue flag with intricate symbolic designs
The Royal Standard

There's a way to tell if the King is there

If you're passing by and wonder whether the King is in, well, you're in luck. Want to know what to look out for?

It's all to do with a flag. If the Union Flag is flying over the palace, then you're out of luck - he's not there. However, if the Royal Standard flag is flying, then he is in the building, or at least making a visit. 

Buckingham Palace is like an opulent mini-village 

Besides the Throne Room and the sprawling grounds, there's a lot going on, inside and outside of the main building.

The Royal Mews, built in 1824-1825, are home to luxurious vehicles, and horses that work during special events.

The garden alone, filled with beautiful plants and trees, covers 42 acres, making it the largest private garden in London. You'll be able to see some of it, but most of it is closed to the public.

There's also a cinema and a swimming pool, a Post Office and police station, a clinic and even an ATM.

See London's magnificent palaces and everything it has to offer

With The London Pass®, you can enjoy a tour not just of Buckingham Palace, but three other royal residences and the Houses of Parliament with Top Sights Tours

Planning your London trip? With The London Pass®, you can explore big-name landmarks, local hotspots and epic tours, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets. 

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