Have you ever dreamed of getting an investiture from The Queen herself or wondered just what it’s like to attend a garden party with the fancy socialite set at Buckingham Palace?
Sadly with no royal connections and very little chance of accomplishing anything worthy of adding letters to the end of my name, I hadn’t really entertained the idea of attending the Palace beyond standing outside the gates, among the throngs of tourists with selfie sticks, eagerly awaiting the changing of the guard.
Little did I know you can actually go inside. Yes, you can wander around The Queen’s London home during the summer months, when Lizzie and Philip escape to the their Balmoral estate for lots of haggis and shooting, no doubt.
The thing is, no one really seems to know about the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening tours. It’s a bit of secret (although after my visit I did see several tube posters that I had clearly been oblivious to before), but I’ve lived here for five years and didn’t know. When I told my pals I was headed to BP, several chums asked why and (somehow remarkably) actually believed my reply of “I’m being honoured of course”. Perhaps I need new friends.
Nevertheless the tour was incredible and much better than I had anticipated. You can wander around the vast galleries, admire the most impressive art work from the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck. The ball rooms and dining rooms are set up as they are during a state banquet or ball so you really get a sense of what life is like at the palace. It’s actually very informative.
If you’ve seen the recently released (and previously never before seen images) from Princes Charles and Diana’s wedding day of Lady Di walking down a corridor with her flower girls, well, I’ve walked down there too. If you haven’t apologies for the tedious link. I even went for a wee at the Palace too. Inside. At Buckingham Palace. Who can say that, hey?While you can stroll through the corridors and waltz around the ballrooms there’s no photography inside – so sadly I can’t show you the wonders that hide behind the palace walls. Trust me on this though, it’s definitely worth a visit.
With the tour over you can grab a drink at The Garden Cafe situated on the terrace overlooking the vast green lawns, just the beginning of the impressive Palace gardens. For a closer look at the gardens and greenery there is a separate tour. During our visit it was a glorious sunny day and we were quite happy to sit in Lizzie’s back garden soaking up the sunshine for a little while.
The Summer Tours are open until 27th of September, so you’ve still got some time to book this year. To find out more see here. It’s only £20.50 for an adult ticket, which makes it a total bargain, plus if you get your ticket validated on the day you can return for free within a year.
It’s worth noting that if you’re with someone who struggles walking or who has a disability take the access tour – it means you drive through the front entrance in a golf buggy and can get the lifts between floors. VIP treatment indeed. Go and book immediately.