Buckingham Palace Tours

Buckingham Palace tours are the tops for most overseas visitors' wish list! After all, who wouldn't want to see the home of the current monarch of Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth II? If I'm in London during the eight weeks that Buckingham Palace tours are available, I go to Expedia "Things to Do" for my tickets. Not only do they offer a tour of the Palace, you get to have afternoon tea afterwards at the Chez Gerard at, what I found, was the best price available.

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of Britain's monarchs and was built in 1705 by the Duke of Buckingham. It is used as the administrative headquarters for the monarchy and hosts all royal ceremonies and banquets.

Amazingly, there are more than 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace, but the public only has access into 19 of the Palace's State Rooms, the Ballroom and Gardens. If you want to see inside the Palace, you will have to visit in late July, August and September when the Queen makes her annual visit to Scotland. On view in the State Rooms are some of the Royal Collection's great treasures, including paintings, sculptures, porcelain and furnishings designed especially for the royal family. You will be immersed in grand splendor!

The Palace tour ends with a walk along the side of the gardens; from here, you can see the west front of the Palace and the lake. You may also want to include a visit to The Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews, where among other things, you will be able to see the State Landau, the carriage used during Kate and William's wedding in April 2011!

Many of you taking Buckingham Palace Tours may want to plan the trip to coincide with the Changing of the Guard - this if FREE to watch! At 11:30 a.m. every day between April 1 and June 30, and every other day during the rest of the year (weather permitting), the New Guard marches to the Palace from Wellington Barracks along with a Guards band.

The Old Guard ceremoniously hands over the responsibility, switching sentries and returning to the barracks. The New Guard then marches to St. James's Palace, leaving the detachment at Buckingham Palace. The whole process takes about 45 minutes and takes place in the front court of Buckingham Palace. This really is something to watch and gives you a great sense of history!

The busiest months are the summer months, from about mid-May until the end of August. If you don't mind missing the Changing of the Guard ceremony, it's best to get to the Palace before 10:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m. to avoid long lines.

There are timed entrances, every 15 minutes, for the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, usually open from late July until late September. The Royal Mews is open 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., with last admission at 4:15 p.m. A visit lasts approximately 1 hour. The Queen's Gallery is open 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., with last admission at 4:30 p.m. A visit lasts between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. The State Rooms are open 9:45 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., with last admission at 3:45 p.m. A visit lasts between 2 and 2 1/2 hours; an audio tour comes with the visit.

The nearest Tube stations are: Victoria, St. James Park and Green Park - all are under a 10-minute walk.

Top Tip - As the exit from the State Rooms is on Grosvenor Place at the back of Buckingham Palace, you may wish to visit the State Rooms at the end of your day to avoid a long walk back. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and, most importantly, don't forget that Buckingham Palace tours should be at the top of your wish list!

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