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 on a display of "Royal Gifts", which will highlight some of the official gifts that have been presented to Her Majesty during the last 65 years of her reign.
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.
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Admin – “Not without going on the tour, no. It's in a cafe on the veranda overlooking the garden, so you have to go through the palace to get there… more”
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