Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every year. For visitor information, please visit the Royal Collection website.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high.
The Palace is very much a working building and the centrepiece of Britain’s constitutional monarchy. It houses the offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and their immediate family.
The Palace is also the venue for great Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures, all of which are organised by the Royal Household. Although Buckingham Palace is furnished and decorated with priceless works of art that form part of the Royal Collection, one of the major art collections in the world today. It is not an art gallery and nor is it a museum.
Its State Rooms form the nucleus of the working Palace and are used regularly by The Queen and members of the Royal Family for official and State entertaining.
More than 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the Royal Garden Parties.
For those who do receive an invitation to Buckingham Palace, the first step across the threshold is into the Grand Hall and up the curving marble stairs of the Grand Staircase. Portraits are still set in the walls, as they were by Queen Victoria.
The Throne Room, sometimes used during Queen Victoria’s reign for Court gatherings and as a second dancing room, is dominated by a proscenium arch supported by a pair of winged figures of ‘victory’ holding garlands above the ‘chairs of state’.
It is in the Throne Room that The Queen, on very special occasions like Jubilees, receives loyal addresses. Another use of the Throne Room has been for formal wedding photographs.
George IV’s original palace lacked a large room in which to entertain. Queen Victoria rectified that shortcoming by adding in 1853-5 what was, at the time of its construction, the largest room in London.
At 36.6m long, 18m wide and 13.5m high, the Ballroom is the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War.
It is along the East Gallery that The Queen and her State guests process to the Ballroom for the State Banquet normally held on the first day of the visit.
Around 150 guests are invited and include members of the Royal Family, the government and other political leaders, High Commissioners and Ambassadors and prominent people who have trade or other associations with the visiting country.
Today, it is used by The Queen for State banquets and other formal occasions such as the annual Diplomatic Reception attended by 1,500 guests.
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