In addition to the best way to see Buckingham Palace, tourists are always curious about the secrets of Buckingham Palace. When we take people through how to see Buckingham Palace, we’re often met with questions about secret tunnels, the corgis, and many other aspects. As a result, we’ve put together this list of royal secrets ready for those who are looking to embark on one of our trips to see Buckingham Palace.
Let’s start with the basics; the things to see around Buckingham Palace simply don’t compare to the grandeur of the building itself. The Palace is comprised of 775 rooms, 19 of which are staterooms, 52 are royal and guest bedrooms, 188 are staff bedrooms, 92 are offices, and 78 are bathrooms. As you can imagine, the ballroom is the largest of these rooms at 18 m wide and 36.6 m long. It was opened in 1856 to mark the completion of the Crimean War . Not only is the Palace itself huge, but the garden is the biggest private one in all of London, at a huge 39 acres. 800 staff work within the Palace, and they’re able to make use of the Court Post Office that sits within the Palace walls and is operated by Royal Mail. In addition to a post office, the Palace is also equipped with an ATM. Rumours also dictate that the Palace is home to a cinema, doctor’s office, and swimming pool.
Rumours of Tunnels
When asking about things to see near Buckingham Palace, you may well be thinking of the rumoured “secret tunnels”. These hypothetical tunnels are said to connect Buckingham Palace to various parts of London; however, it’s unlikely that these tunnels could realistically operate.
The Oldest Helicopter Pad in London
So, Buckingham Palace, what to see? Well, London’s oldest helicopter pad for a start. Prior to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, a helicopter landed in the garden of the Palace. Although this wasn’t an official helipad, it was used as a helicopter landing area for many years.
Since then, the Royal family became tired of the lawn being destroyed by helicopter landings, meaning that an official helipad was built in the gardens in 2000. Despite this, it isn’t your typical concrete pad; for aesthetic purposes, it was crafted out of matting underneath grass.
Births and Deaths of Royals
Surprisingly, only one monarch was born in Buckingham Palace and died there, and this was Edward VII.
The Oldest Section
The oldest section of Buckingham Palace is the wine vaults, which can be found below the west wing. The wine vaults have been there since 1760, at this stage, the Palace was known as Buckingham House and belonged to the family of the Duke of Buckingham. The building wasn’t acquired by the Royal Family until 1761, and it became a royal residence even later.
The Lost River
If you’re wondering what to see around Buckingham Palace, the River Tyburn won’t be one of these points of interest. This is because the “lost” River Tyburn runs below the Palace; however, it has since turned into more of a sewer than a river.
The Top Dogs
Everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth II loves her Corgis, but not everyone knows just how much. Sources have revealed that the Queen’s corgis ruled the roost and were given complete unrestricted access to every area of the Palace.
From royal weddings to jubilees, every British person has seen the Buckingham Palace balcony on television at least once in their lives. Despite this, it’s not too well known where the tradition of Royals standing on the balcony came from. Well, this custom started in 1851 during the opening of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, whereby Queen Victoria made her appearance on the balcony. In addition to this, the tradition of appearing at the end of the Trooping of the Colour was started by George IV.
Almost a Museum
As previously mentioned, Buckingham Palace was once called Buckingham House and, before it was transformed into a royal residence, it was once considered a potential site for the British Museum. Despite this, it was deemed too expensive, meaning it soon became Buckingham Palace.
In the 1600s, King James I (unsuccessfully) attempted to rear silkworms and had a mulberry garden planted to do so. Buckingham Palace was built on the site of this garden, making the Palace the holder of the National Collection of mulberries.
The Relocation of Marble Arch
As many of us know, Marble Arch can be found at the northeast corner of Hyde Park; however, this wasn’t the original site of the arch. Initially, Marble Arch was built in front of Buckingham Palace; however, it had to be moved to make room for the fourth wing of the Palace to be built.
Queen Victoria was the first monarch to use Buckingham Palace as her original residence, and it soon became apparent that the space wasn’t big enough to host official visitors. It’s for this reason that Marble Arch was moved, to accommodate the extension.
When official events, such as state banquets, are held at the Palace, it’s not without plenty of preparation. In fact, the putting together and laying of the banquet table can take up to five days. Queen Elizabeth II also inspects the setup herself before the event can go ahead.
Where to See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
If you’re wondering where to see the Buckingham Palace guards, look no further than our Westminster and Changing of the Guard Tour. Experience regal London in all its glory by booking in for a tour here.