As palaces go, I've seen better. I've even seen better in London. I went to Hampton Court and it was miles better than this. The only impressive bit about Buckingham Palace is its location. You've got that big pink road leading up to it and some beautiful parks around it, but then the building itself doesn't come up to scratch. For starters, it is too small. A palace should be a fairytale place, with turrets and huge gates and ornate decoration. But the front of it is just bland. It's just a big boring box shape. Apparently it used to be a big house which was converted into a palace, and it shows. Surely your queen could afford to get something a bit better
I've never been inside it but whenever i go past i think it;s a lousy looking palace. I want my Palaces to look like Hampton Court and Versailles, but this is just a box shape and its not even very big. If you look at the front then its got horrible tower blocks behind it. Maybe I should make the effort one day and go inside, but the outside doesnt exactly make you want to visit
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.
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
[Taken from my blog.] I went on the tour and it's pretty good. You get to see all of the State Rooms and the gardens out the back too... but there are a few bits and pieces that are missing. You don't get to see the famous balcony, for example, but I imagine that everyone would be up there woo-hooing to their mates down below if they opened that up. You are pretty much free to walk around at your own pace, but everyone is kept moving along by the little guide on the headset, so in reality you are pushed from room to room pretty quick. The whole thing probably took about an hour and a half I reckon. You start at the Ambassador's Entrance on the leftside of the Palace, and through a little corridor filled with modern art. Then you come out into the open and get a decent view of the inner courtyard where all the big-wigs enter, then it's straight up the Grand Staircase. The Grand Staircase is the first bit where you stop and think, jeez this is posh. I could quite happily live out the rest of my days just sitting on those stairs. Next up is the Green Drawing Room which leads to the Throne Room. Do you remember William and Kate's official wedding photos? That is where they were taken, in the room with the red velvet walls. They even had a few on display so you could see where they were standing. Then you go into the long Picture Gallery with the Vermeers, Van Dycks and Canalettos. After that it's along to the East Gallery and a little Faberge exhibition. That was pretty boring for the blokes but the old women seemed to like it. It was full of Faberge jewellery and those little easter eggs things that are covered in jewels -- they must have cost a few bob. Then you come to the best room of the lot -- the Ballroom. I didn't know this at the time, but this is that place you always see on TV where they do the State Banquets. It didn't look the same because it didn't have the table in it. They've taken that out so they can stick in Kate Middleton's wedding dress. I read in the paper that the Queen didn't like the display much because the dress didn't have a head. But it looks even worse now because the whole thing is entombed inside one of those black mosquito net things. I'm not much into dresses so it didn't do much for me. But she must be pretty short I thought -- judging by the dress she's only 4 foot tall. They had her Cinderella-style shoes and earrings on display too, and the little flower bouquet that she had in her hands. A few rooms later you get to see their wedding cake. I'm surprised they didn't have a video of their wedding night too -- that was about the only thing that was missing. After that you go into the real State Dining Room, which I thought was the other State Dining Room, but is actually a lot smaller than the big banquet place. And then you come to probably the poshest rooms of the lot -- the Blue Drawing Room, the Music Room and White Drawing Room. All of those are at the back of the Palace and look down onto the gardens. Then you head downstairs into the Marble Hall, the Bow Room, and out the back.
[Taken from my blog.] I went for the first time last year and it was pretty good, so I upgraded my ticket this time and did a tour of the gardens too. So I have seen the whole thing now, inside and out, front and back. And I can confirm that is a) posh and b) nice. After you've been through the airport-style security and picked up your audio guide, the whole thing starts round the lefthand side at the Ambassador's Entrance. This is basically the non-posh entrance for all the total nobodies (ie. politicians). It's got a few paintings and busts but nothing special. Then you come out to your first view of the Quadrangle (the interior courtyard). This is the bit where the Queen's carriage disappears too once she's passed through the central arch. Then it's up the little stairs and into what I reckon is my favourite room of all -- the Grand Entrance and Grand Hall. It's the first room that everyone sees when they enter the Palace, and it's a blinder. After that you wind your way up the Grand Staircase with the golden ballustrade, which is just as impressive, and into the tiny Guard Chamber and Green Drawing Room. Then it's the Throne Room, which you've probably already seen on the telly (it's the red room where they always take the wedding photos and family snaps).
After the Throne Room you come to the long Picture Gallery, which is hung with stuff by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Canaletto. The you're into the East Gallery and the Ball Supper Room. The Ball Supper Room is where they hold a little exhibition. Last year it was all about Faberge Eggs. This year it was all about diamonds, in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It was pretty boring for a bloke (I'm a bloke), but I'm sure the ladies would love it. They like looking at all those sparkly rings and things.
After that you come to the Ballroom. This is where the do all the investitures... giving out the knighthoods and gongs. It's also where they host all the State Banquets. Then you move onto the West Gallery, the State Dining Room (which is not where they hold the State Banquets, confusingly), Blue Drawing Room and Music Room. The Music Room is one of the stand-out rooms of the tour, because it bows out and overlooks the gardens. If you look at the photo I took of the back of the Palace, you can see the Music Room in the centre of the facade, jutting out in a semi-circle. Then you come to the White Drawing Room, which has got to be the most garish room in the Palace. It's all white, yellow and gold, like you're sitting inside a sunflower. Imagine having all your seats and furntiture painted bright yellow. That is what it is like.
The final bit of the tour takes you down the Minister's Staircase, which is basically a poor man's version of the Grand Staircase for the politicians, and through the Marble Hall. The Hall is a kind of like a twin to the Picture Gallery upstairs, but contains the Queen's collection of fine white statues and marble sculptures. Then it's past the Grand Hall again and out of the Bow Room, and into the garden.
Once you are into the garden it's time for a rest, because they've set up a little cafe on the veranda selling very expensive tea and cakes. But how can you resist having a cup of tea on the Buckingham Palace veranda? I had a tuna roll too, which set me back about a million quid. If you've got any money left after that then you can have a look around the shop as well, and whip out your camera to take some shots of the lawn. (This is the only part of the palace tour where they allow you to take photos.)
It was at this point last year that I went home, but I'd splashed out on the garden tour as well this time, so I had to wait around for an hour for that to start. Our guide was pretty good. He was a posh guy called Mr Wild (true!) and if the Buckingham Palace bosses are reading this then you should give him a payrise. He was exactly the kind of guy that you would imagine working at the Palace... a teeny-weeny bit posh, friendly and quite funny too. He told us all about the famous flowers and shrubs, and which Queen planted which tree, and built which little building etc. There was a lot of history to cover, and he kept it interesting. But I think it would mainly appeal to gardeners. It was that type of tour -- if you like your flowers then you will be well happy. You also get to see parts of the garden that no one else does, and there are some very pretty views. Unfortunately you don't quite get to see it all, because you aren't allowed to leave the path. So it never ventures into the centre. But there is more than enough there to make it worthwhile.