Introduction to visiting Buckingham Palace
Discover Buckingham Palace, home to more than a hundred years of royal history. Join the State Rooms tour every summer where you’ll learn all about the British monarchy’s life including Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II. Explore St. James’ Park and The Green Park, 2 royal parks that were once the grounds for royal hunting and recreational purposes. Enjoy the Changing of the Guards at 11am where you will hear procession of bands and music as they change positions. Read more about the history of Buckingham Palace and its monarchy. Below are 8 Reasons to visit Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace has always been number 1 on a traveller’s bucket list of things to do in London. The Palace is rich in history and medieval stories about the royal family. With so many events happening in and around the Palace, the various major attractions surrounding it, it is no surprise that it’s one of the most visited attractions in London. There are thousands of reasons why people visit Buckingham Palace.
The history of Buckingham Palace
The history of Buckingham Palace is an interesting one. Its history dates back to the 17th Century, long ago when James I reigned the monarch. Previously called Buckingham House, James I planted mulberries to tend to silkworms in the House Gardens. Much later, George III bough the Place for his wife Queen Charlotte and their children whilst still residing in St. James’ Palace.
When George III son George IV became king in 1820, he decided he wanted Buckingham House to be turned into a Palace, hence the name “Buckingham Palace.” Ever since then, the many lines of the British monarchy have made the Palace their homes. Presently, it’s used for administration purposes and major ceremonies.
Visit Buckingham Palace’s website here.
So, here are the reasons why you should visit Buckingham Palace.
1. Take a walking tour to Buckingham Palace
If Buckingham Palace is the first things to do on your bucket list, the first thing you want to do is take a Walking Tour. It’s a good starting point to navigate your way around the palace and the attractions around it. Golden Tours is the best London tours in and around London. In the Golden Tours section, check out the walking tours here.
From visiting the State Rooms to learning about the facts and figures regarding Buckingham Palace, you’ll be immersed and knowledgeable about the Royals and VIPs involved within the Palace, who have made massive impacts in our community. The local guide will give you more information about the Palace and you can ask any questions you may have.
The best time to go is during the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer. It does get really hot between July and August, at times, it gets uncomfortable when you’re out in the hot sunshine. During March to June, the air still has a cool breeze while still enjoying the summer weather.
Alternatively, take a self-guided tour on your own, take as much time as you want. You can enjoy the crowds gathering outside the Palace, taking photos, hang around by the Victoria Memorial statue and stroll through St. James’ Park or Green Park.
2. Changing of the Guards
The Changing of the Guards in London gives London that special icing on the cake. Music and bands play during the ceremony. It happens at 11 am. Days vary depending on the season but usually happens on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday and daily in the summer. My advice is to get there at 10 in the morning, spend your time in front of the memorial, St. James’ Park or The Green Park.
Alternatively, you can watch the Changing of the Guards in Horse guard Parade. The advantage is that there aren’t that many people as the ones in Buckingham Palace. Read all about my time at Horse guard Parade here.
It gets busy so get there one hour early and see if you can get to the left side of the main gate, a good view of the ceremony.
3. Buckingham Palace is in the Top 10
With more than 1.5 million visitors a year, it is no surprise Buckingham Palace is in one of the top 10 visited attractions in London. People from all over the world come to London specifically for the royal family.
Ceremonies like Trooping of the Colours, royal weddings and funerals, the Changing of the Guards and the fact that it’s near St. James’ Park, the Green Park, Piccadilly street that links to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace is in the middle of the hustle and bustle of city life.
When there’s nothing going on, people take photos of the British guards outside the palace behind the huge iron gates. It’s the best time to visit if you don’t like crowds and it’s very peaceful when there’s nothing going on. People tend to hang around in The Victoria Memorial and glance at the guards standing still.
The view of the guards from the gates are quite far for security reasons, but once you see the guards for a few minutes, take photos, you can move on to other attractions nearby. There are still usually people crowding outside but it’s quiet compared to big events. Everything that involves the Queen or any royal family happen in Buckingham Palace.
If there are major ceremonies such as Trooping of the Colours, royal weddings and funerals, they would drive and walk through The Mall and crowds of people from all over the world would gather around the fenced pavements.
4. Buckingham Palace is next to 3 Royal Parks
Hyde Park, St. James’ Park and The Green Park are three amazing royal parks Buckingham Palace is close to. The Green Park offers quiet retreats and open spaced greenery, trees, memorials and so much more. The Green Park isn’t as colourful as St. James’ Park but during spring, daffodils and colourful flowers bloom around the park and on trees. The only downside to the Green Park flowers is the allergies from pollen. It can also be muddy after a rainy day.
The famous Hyde Park is a few minutes’ walk away from the Palace. Major events happen here. Along with sunbathing in Summer, enjoy music festivals and charity concerts held for the nation.
Why not visit Winter Wonderland during winter, hear the screaming children and adults on the colourful, flashing lights on rides, dance the night away with festive music at the Bavarian Village and enjoy the taste of salty, sweet onion burgers and hot dogs accompanied with mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise and fizzy drinks.
When there’s no major events, enjoy pedal boating on the Serpentine lake and pedal your way among the geese and ducks, enjoying the hot summer sunshine, other people and wildlife.
The best thing about Hyde Park is that it connects to Kensington Gardens. Princess Diana’s love for children means that children can splash their feet on the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain running along the edges of the park.
Visit Kensington Palace, home to Princess Diana and Queen Victoria. A few minutes’ walk, head over to Portobello Market for vintage and antiques.
The squawking of geese and birds swimming or sleeping by the lake. The sounds of small sprinkling of water dropping from the fountain. The breeze sweeping off my face. The colourful flowerbeds; blues, yellows, purples, greens and reds. The wooden bridge over the lake. People sunbathing in summer and children playing snowballs and making snow angels in the cold winter season make my time in St. James’ Park worthwhile.
Don’t forget, these parks have been around for more than a hundred years. It gets better every year.
Check out Hyde Park’s website.
Check out Hyde Park’s reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Green Park
Although the Green Park doesn’t really have that many activities compared to St. James’ Park and Hyde Park, the park blooms with colourful flowers and green trees. Like Hyde Park and St. James’ Park, there are many memorials you can take advantage of.
Children laugh and play by the memorials, joggers with their dogs, people reading books on a hot summer’s day, sunbathing and enjoying the weather, people having lunch from nearby supermarkets. The Green Park is still special for people who just want simple, green and outdoor space. Spend your time here to reflect, relax, socialise in nature.
Check out The Green Park website.
Check out The Green Park reviews on Tripadvisor.
St. James’ Park
St. James’ Park has more colour and wildlife such as pelicans, swans and geese. In addition, from St. James’ Park, you can take beautiful photos of Buckingham Palace. Take advantage of colourful flowers, wildlife, the lake and the pelicans in Duck Pond House. Feeding time for the pelicans is at 2:30pm every day.
Feed the pelicans is an experience that won’t go away. It’s great for families with young children and adults alike. Although at different times, it’s hard to spot and find them, but when they’re there, you won’t regret meeting them.
Because of my love for nature, being close to the wildlife, trees, flowers and the crowds of people boosts really does boost your immune system and great for your mental health.
Check out St. James’ Park website.
Check out St. James’ Park reviews on Tripadvisor.
Victoria Memorial Statue
5. The State Rooms Tour
Between Summer and Autumn, Buckingham Palace is swarming with people from around the world visiting the State Rooms and its garden.
You’ll be immersed in more than one hour’s experience into the history and lives of the British Royal Family. Although the State Room talks about the Royal family in general, it mainly talks about the life of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert since Queen Victoria’s reign, the monarchy became powerful. She reigned for more than 60 years helping the monarchy modern, serving the poor.
The State Rooms Tour takes you on more than an hour’s experience into the history and lives of the British royal family, mainly Queen Victoria and our current Queen Elizabeth. It also tells you a lot about their lives at the palace, the meetings and social gatherings that goes on between their family.
Visiting the State Rooms involve booking a time slot when and what time to visit. You can download the Fever app on your mobile phone and pick a time slot for your visit.
With the Fever app, including the State Rooms Tour, you can see what events and attractions are happening in and around London. You are also able to choose the date and time for the particular event.
Visit the Royal Mews tour next to Buckingham Palace.
Click here to go to the State Rooms website and more information on opening hours, facts and figures of the State Rooms.
Check out my time in the State Rooms here.
6. The place for royal events
Do you remember when Prince Charles and Diana, Prince William and Kate, Prince Harry and Meghan and all the other royals got married at the famous balcony? The royal bride and groom get married in either Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral.
As crowds gather around Westminster Abbey, the church bell rings, ready for the royal couple to appear. Flags from around the world covered the fences. The flags from the United States, France, Germany, parts of Africa could be seen everywhere. This shows international visitors from all over the came to London just for the royal wedding.
When hearing the church bells ring, it’s something many Brits would be proud of. Everyone sacrificed their usual TV programmes for this special day. That moment was the moment when everyone felt patriotic. To have one of the British members of the royal family getting married is something no other countries have and can compare to. I felt nervous for them, and I wasn’t even physically there, I watched it on TV.
Hundreds of police officers scatter by the entrance of Westminster Abbey, fences are put between police officers and the thousands of crowds. Screams and shouts could be heard, excitement mounting up to the bride’s appearance. I felt like a princess in a dream when I watched the ceremony on TV. Famous British politicians and monarchy from around the world appear one after another and took their seats.
As the black vintage Rolls Royce drives up The Mall, pass Buckingham Palace and stops in front of the entrance of Westminster Abbey, one of the foot guards open the door, holds his hand out for the bride. Thin, white, transparent veil cover the bride’s face. As she steps out of the vehicle, crowds’ wave at her while she waves back at them. The Queen’s guard transfers the bride’s hand to her father, and both walk down the aisle on a red carpet together. The long walk to the end of the Abbey takes time since.
As the wedding ceremony ends, the bride and groom are escorted to their black horse drawn carriage taking them back through the Mall and to Buckingham Palace. Tens of the Queen’s horse guards gallop out of Buckingham Palace to make way from the royal couple, thousands of more crowds gather around the Queen Victoria Memorial statue. This is the time when we see them kiss at the famous balcony, red curtains covering the balcony wall. However, from the Memorial it’s very far to see.
Trooping of the Colours
What about Trooping of the Colours where British Commonwealth armies perform a ceremony during the Queen’s birthday in June. She would travel down The Mall with her horse guards (Household Cavalry) and her foot guards. It has been a national tradition since the 17th Century to hold Trooping of the Colours. The regiment’s flags and colours were used as rallying points in the battlefield.
As tens of horse guards, music and the bands get ready to line up for the Queen’s birthday, several black open horse-drawn carriages gallop out of Buckingham Palace through The Mall. It’s usually the Queen’s Daughter and Grand daughter in Law, the Queen’s grandsons and partners go out first. As the National anthem plays, there is usually a sense of pride in the nation’s faces, the feeling of being patriotic. The big, dark brown horses gallop with their red coat and top hat riders first, then the Queen would make her appearance next, making her way to her birthday parade followed by four guards with her eldest daughter saluting in sync.
The Trooping of the Colours are held at the Horse Guard Parade. All around the Horse Guard Parade, seats are taken by the public to enjoy full view of the parade as the Queen is being escorted to the middle of the ground. Hundreds of her British guards and regiments, sitting tall on their horses stand in line in front of the Queen.
The parade finally starts. The Queen’s foot guards stand in squares, some stands still surrounding the Parade. The ones in the middle gets ready to march towards the Queen. Trumpets and drums play patriotic music for a good 15 minutes. Then silence. Then, the second part of the parade starts again where marching and wooden horse drawn carriages gather together to make the day that extra bit special.
7. The Mall
If you walk through The Mall from St. James’ Park, admire The Admiralty Arch, which will then lead you to Trafalgar Square. Usually, in spring and summer people sunbathe and socialise around here. When you’re with friends and family, especially with young children, the crowds at special ceremonies will make you feel a part of the community. It’s also a great idea to walk in Constitutional Walk since you have a good view of St. James’ Park and Buckingham Palace.
8. Walking distances from major tourist attractions
Buckingham Palace is walking distances to many major tourist attractions. I recommend visiting Buckingham Palace first thing in the morning and book the State Rooms at another time or another day since it can take at least 2 hours in there. As you admire the outer sections of the Palace, walk through The Mall next to St. James’ Park, you’ll reach The Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square.
Once you get to Trafalgar Square, you have several options to take within walking distances. Visit the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Leicester Square links to Piccadilly Circus and Piccadilly Circus links to Regent Street, Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue for major theatre shows. Regent Street links to Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.
If you go through the Admiralty Archway, turn right, you’d be in Whitehall. Whitehall have major attractions such as Downing Street, Horse guard Parade and many memorials and statues of important politicians scattered around the street. Check out my time at Changing of the Guards Horse guard Parade.
With Horse guard Parade, after the Changing of the Guards, you can get up close and personal with the horses. Don’t agitate them or the guards, remember they’re there to protect the Queen. Respect them. There’s usually a small crowd taking photos with them.
When you reach Downing Street, you aren’t allowed to go in. There are usually people crowding around to see a glimpse of the door but really, you’re not able to see it since it’s covered with a group of policemen and the high ironed gates. Sometimes, there are protests about the economy.
Further up, you’ll end up in Westminster where you’ll see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the River Thames, London Eye, London Dungeon, Sea life Aquarium, Shrek the Experience and walk on the strip of Southbank. On the Southbank there are more things to do and attractions to see.
Southbank is walking distances from The Shard, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge and Borough Market.
Click here for 14 Things to do in Southbank.
Click here for my experience in The Tower of London.
So, there you have it. Buckingham Palace is number one on my list.