Buckingham Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Buckingham Palace

London, England, United Kingdom

Buckingham Palace has been the royal residence of British monarchs since the reign of Queen Victoria.

Lily Johnson

25 Mar 2021

About Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of Britain’s monarchs since 1837, when Queen Victoria first occupied it. With 775 rooms, Buckingham Palace is a magnificently vast site and one of Britain’s most recognisable buildings.

Buckingham Palace history

Buckingham Palace, then known as Buckingham House, was originally built for the Dukes of Buckingham at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1761 however it was acquired by George III, intending it to be a private retreat for Queen Charlotte, for whom he rechristened it ‘The Queen’s Residence’.

A remodelling programme was begun at this time, and was continued under George IV, transforming Buckingham Palace into the building with which we are familiar today. These changes took around 75 years to implement, and despite its refurbishment being a resolutely Georgian effort, the first monarch to actually live there was Queen Victoria.

Victoria expanded the Palace to accommodate her growing family, and before Prince Albert‘s death it was often the site of musical entertainments and lavish costume balls. Following the Prince’s death in 1861 however, Buckingham Palace remained shuttered and empty for many years, as Victoria could seldom stand to be in London.

The subsequent monarchs to occupy Buckingham Palace would revive it however, redecorating with each reign as fashions changed and adding to its vast royal art collection.

Buckingham Palace today

Today, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the monarch, whose presence in the building is signified by the raising of the Royal Standard flag upon its roof. Buckingham Palace also serves an administrative centre in which the monarch hosts official receptions and events, alongside housing the offices of the monarch’s staff.

In August and September, the 19 State Rooms of Buckingham Palace are open to tourists, along with a few other sections of the eminent building. Here, visitors can see the Royal Collections, which include an incredible array of artwork as well as some of the finest English and French furniture. Audio guides are included in the ticket price and a visit usually lasts around two hours.

One of the major attractions at Buckingham Palace is the Changing the Guard ceremony, which takes place on a daily basis during the summer at 11:30am on the forecourt of the palace, and on alternate days in winter. This ceremony lasts for 45 minutes, and sees the Palace’s iconic guards complete a ritual display of British pageantry.

Getting to Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is located in London opposite St James’s Park. The closest Underground stations are Victoria, Green Park, and Hyde Park Corner, all around a 10-minute walk away, while the closest train station is London Victoria, a 15-minute walk away. Bus services 11, 211, C1, and C10 also all stop on Buckingham Palace Road, a 10-minute walk away.

Featured In

London Historic Sites

Londinium, The Big Smoke, The Great Wen: London has experienced its fair share of change over its 2000-year history. Here's our pick of some of the British capital's most famous historic sites to visit today.

Victorian Sites in England

Explore England's Victorian heritage through these 10 dazzling sites, from Osborne House to Crystal Palace Park, as well as some lesser-known yet important gems.