Buckingham Palace

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10 things you didn't know about Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace is a stunning architectural monument, the biggest tourist attraction in London and one of the most recognisable palaces in Europe and the world. Here, I will enlighten you about 10 interesting things you probably didn’t know regarding this royal palace, which are absolutely fascinating. Some of these may shock you!

10 things you didn't know about Buckingham Palace.
Main Gate
A white Palace with gate and fence
Constitution Hill

The List

Ok, let’s go. But, I warn you, it’s not all tea and tiaras!

1. Monarchy

Buckingham Palace is one of the few remaining fully functioning royal palaces in the world, being the home and offices of the Monarch of the UK. Many other countries lost their royal families long ago and the old palaces are now museums for the most part.

2. Name

It is named after the Duke of Buckingham who built Buckingham House, as it was previously known, when he became Duke in the early 1700s. Then it was purchased by the royal family in 1761, enlarged and renamed Buckingham Palace.

3. Queen Vic

Queen Victoria made it the royal residence officially in 1837. But parts of the Palace were a bit shabby. There were problems with ventilation and smells. The staff were lazy and the Palace was less than clean. After extensive renovations, Victoria brought the Palace to life, hosting lavish balls, ceremonies and musical performances by famous artists at the time.

4. Deserted Palace

In the 1860s the Palace was virtually deserted and neglected by the grieving Queen Victoria who left following the death of her beloved Prince Albert. She didn’t want it! But was convinced by the people to return. Her monument (pictured above) sits proudly outside the front gate.

5. Today

Today the Palace is valued at about £2 Billion, however, this figure varies from different sources. It is not owned by the Queen personally, but held in trust for the Sovereign by the State. In other words, the people of London own it. Lucky them? I’m not so sure.

But what happens if the new Sovereign doesn’t want to live there? Speculation has it that Charles won’t want a bar of it, save for official business purposes only. I don’t think he will be forced to live there like his mother was forced by Churchill.

10 Things you didn't know about Buckingham Palace
Main driveway of Buckingham Palace

6. Facilities

This regal abode has 775 rooms and more bathrooms than necessary, surely, 78 of them in fact! And guess what? None of them are ensuites. What? I hear you say. I know… Anyway, let’s not dwell on the bathrooms.

There are 800 staff employed, many of which reside at the Palace. Now, you would think living at the Palace, their accommodation would be luxurious, right? Wrong! They are similar to student dormitories and aren’t free.

Interesting trivia: 2 staff are employed full time to keep all 350 clocks in the Palace in working order at all ‘times’ (pardon the pun). What do you think their job title is? Horological Conservators. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it.

7. Renovations

Apart from the fancy State Rooms, much of the Palace is currently in dire need of restorations, with wiring, plumbing and painting still the same for more than 50 years, which actually makes it a fire hazard, amongst other things. Also, it is mouse-infested (a big NO from me) and has asbestos too.

What is the cost of the works taking place, you ask? Wait for it … £370 million. Wow! And furthermore, it will take 10 years to finish. OMG! (Um, I hate to state the obvious, but a certain someone might not live to see its completion … cough, cough.)

The Queen has been asked to open the Palace for tours all year round in order to help fund the exorbitant cost of the restorations, but apparently that’s not feasible, so taxpayers will have the pleasure of footing the bill (since, they own it).

8. Tours

You can only visit the palace when the Queen is away during the summer, in July and August (HRH doesn’t want to be there when the riff-raff are let loose). Tours are available for the State Rooms, Throne Room and Gallery only, and take about 2 to 3 hours. No photography is allowed in the rooms.

Changing of the Guards at the front gates occurs every morning in summer for 45 minutes and is free to watch, if you can get a good spot.

9. Dress code

As you can imagine the Palace has very strict codes of dress for formal visitors. But, when Mahatma Gandhi visited Buckingham Palace in 1931 to see King George, he refused to change from his usual attire of loin cloth (dhoti) and sandals, which represented the poor of India, and he added only a large shawl for warmth. Afterwards, he said that ‘his majesty more than made up for both of us’ (i.e. he was overdressed).

Interesting trivia: The then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill called him ‘a naked fakir’ (I’ll tell you what it means, cos I can read your mind – it’s a religious man with few belongings).

10. Location

The land on which the Palace is built was originally swamp land, where King James planted a mulberry garden to grow silkworms, in order to compete with the high quality french silk.

Tours of Buckingham Palace You May Like

Other interesting facts (because I just can’t stop at 10):

  • The Palace has an Art Gallery;
  • There is an ATM machine;
  • A Police Station is on site;
  • There is a cinema;
  • Some rooms have Chinese decor, furniture and artefacts (I’m not sure why);
  • 40,000 light bulbs are fitted in the Palace;
  • In WWII the Palace survived 9 bombing attacks, yes 9, and the chapel was completely destroyed;
  • Every year 50,000 VIP guests are entertained at the Palace,

and my favourite,

  • Secret tunnels exist under the Palace that lead to other places in London. Oooh!

For spooky tales of London’s history, check out the famous Tower of London.

Thanks for reading ‘things you didn’t know about Buckingham Palace’. You may leave a comment below if you would like.

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10 things you didn't know about Buckingham Palace.
Princess Diana memorial plaque outside the Palace

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10 things you didn't know about Buckingham Palace.

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7 thoughts on “Buckingham Palace

  1. Great post! I just learned so much! I lived in London for more than 10 years, but I have never been inside Buckingham Palace (although I’ve taken friends to the gates multiple times when playing tour guide!)

    p.s. Horological Conservator is an amazing job title for what must be quite a dull job!

  2. All of these are interesting facts indeed! I think the one that was the most interesting to me was about the staff and how their rooms are like dorms and that they have to pay! Love the name of the employees who make sure the clocks are working. Such a fancy job title 🙂

  3. It sounds like a lot of the issues with Buckingham will resolve themselves. The upgrades should allow for ensuite bathrooms and, if Charles isn’t living there, there will be a lot more public tours. something tells me the interior isn’t as grand as my imagination paints it after reading this list.

  4. While many think of Buckingham Palace as only the residence of the Queen, it is also the administrative headquarters of the Queen. Small correction … Buckingham Palace is owned and operated by Crown Estate and held in trust for the monarchy in the same way 10 Downing Street is owned by the govt and provided to the Prime Minister. The people of London are not the owners … it is all the taxpayers of the country. Did you also know that Buckingham Palace was at the centre of the suffragette campaign in 1914? And in fact two women chained themselves to the gates at the time.

  5. I was just in London in April so of course, we didn’t get to tour Buckingham much to my mother’s dismay. But we did get to tour Windsor Castle and as it was Holy Week, she was in residence while we were there. So I can say I’ve been in the same building as HRH…sort of! LOL! Interesting facts. That is an absurd amount of bathrooms and I’m totally not surprised about the secret tunnels. I am surprised about all the repairs it still needs and the asbestos. Not good!

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