It's that time of year again... when Buckingham Palace throws open its doors to the public.
As one of the few working palaces remaining in the world, Buckingham Palace serves as both the office and the official London residence of Her Majesty The Queen, as well as the administrative headquarters of the entire Royal Household.
The Summer Opening allows you to see inside 19 of the lavishly decorated State Rooms where the official functions are held, all furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection.
The self-guided tour will take you into the Quadrangle and through the Grand Entrance, then up the Grand Staircase to the Ball Supper Room and Ballroom (where they hold the investitures).
They always include a special exhibition every year in the Ballroom, and this year they've decided to celebrate Prince Charles' 70th birthday.
After that comes the State Dining Room, Blue Drawing Room, Music Room and White Drawing Room, followed by the Picture Gallery with its paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Canaletto.
Then it's into the spectacular Throne Room and down the Minister's Staircase to the Marble Hall, Bow Room, and out onto the veranda which overlooks a small part of the garden (where they hold the garden parties in the summer).
Craig has been to the Summer Opening numerous times (too many to count), and ranks it as one of his best things to do in London. You can read his most recent review of the Buckingham Palace Tour on his blog. One of the things that he enjoys the most is having a cup of tea (a very expensive cup of tea!) on the veranda at the end. How many people can say they've sipped a cup of Earl Grey tea at Buckingham Palace?
You can extend your visit with a tour of the Buckingham Palace gardens as well (for extra cost). And if you're lucky you might be able to time it with the Changing of the Guard ceremony as well (you have to book a timed ticket, so this isn't always possible). You could even go and visit Prince Charles' Clarence House.
donald – “Of all the tourist sites I've been too (and I'm not a tourist -- I've lived here for 20 years) the Palace is the most interesting by far. The place just impresses the moment you step through the door. The audio guide is superb and gives you an insight into everything from the events and state visist held here, to the formal dinners, investitures and awards etc. It probably takes a good 2 hours to enjoy the inside of the Palace to its full, and then you can have a rest with a cup of tea on the terrace, and look out over the gardens where they hold the famous garden parties.”
pearlyqueen – “Having already been to Windsor Castle and loved it, I was already knowing the kind of spendour to expect, but to say that Buckingham Palace took my breath away is an understatement! What an amazing palace. And it is even more impressive inside given that the outside is rather less than impressive. You walk in not really expecting to see the kind of riches that you do. Everything, from the furniture, ceilings (and even the wallpaper!) is sumptious. You really do appreciate the kind of impression that visiting foreign heads of state must get when they meet the Queen. Everything is designed to impress, from the scale, to the views, to the service (each guest gets their own personal butler!) Being a bit of a dimbo, a lot of the history on the audio guide went over my head, but I can see that it would be very interesting if you're into that kind of thing. But even if you're not, you can still look at the palace and dream of being a princess”
Craig’s review – “There's an excited line of tourists outside Buckingham Palace. Half of us are dressed for a society ball and the other half the shops. There are people here who seem to believe you need to dress up to get inside. (Trust me, you don't.) The Queen must dread the Summer Opening. It's a bit like having a million in-laws come round your house at Christmas. But she's got a… continued”
Buckingham Palace Tour, and garden highlights – 23 Jul to 30 Sep 2018 – Why not combine a visit to the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening with a tour of the Queen's gardens as well?
Visit the State Rooms at Windsor Castle – Every day – Visit the State Rooms at Windsor Castle, the world's oldest inhabited castle, and the Royal Family's home for over 1000 years.
Clarence House — Tour around Prince Charles’ home – 1 to 31 Aug 2018 – Have a tour around Clarence House, home to Prince Charles and Camilla, which used to be home to the Queen Mother.
Exclusive guided tour around Clarence House – 1 to 31 Aug 2018 (Wed-Fri) – Enjoy a guided tour around Prince Charles and Camilla's Clarence House, and be treated to a glass of champagne at the end.
If you enjoy Buckingham Palace then you might like to visit Clarence House (you can walk it in 6 mins), Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace (catch the train from St James’s Park to Kensington Palace), Royal Mews (you can walk it in 4 mins) and Windsor Castle
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans