After all my summer research about London, I absolutely knew I wanted to visit the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace. The rooms only open up for 10 weeks during the year, and on my arrival to London in early September, I was almost out of time. I decided to book my tickets as soon as I could, and that is how I ended up in Buckingham Palace one Tuesday afternoon.
Designed to let people roam at their pleasure, the tour utilizes audio recordings to educate guests about each room. I quite enjoyed this because I like to really look at things while on a tour, instead of being rushed around and talked at.
The tour begins with the Grand Entrance, Hall, and Staircase, rooms in which The Queen still welcomes distinguished guests into the palace. What struck me about these rooms is how beautiful they are. I knew the palace was going to be spectacular, but I was honestly not prepared for how deep of an emotional response I would have looking up at the gilded ceilings and marble statues. It felt surreal to be standing there, in this room where so many famous and important people have stood before.
Once you have walked up the Grand Staircase, the tour leads you through the Green Drawing Room into the Throne Room, which holds a lot of sentimentality to me. I am very invested in historically-based Netflix shows, such as The Crown and Reign. (I will add here that I am fully aware of Reign’s issues with historical inaccuracy, but that my friend is a discussion for a different day.) Within those shows Buckingham Palace is often portrayed, the Throne Room being a very popular setting. Today, the Throne Rooms is used a lot for formal photography, especially when heads of state visit or after royal weddings. All I can say is that it would be spectacular to sit on the throne itself, too bad I wasn’t born a royal.
The Picture Gallery is next on the tour. I enjoyed it, but I wish I was more into art. I just don’t understand it sometimes, even though I want to. There are only certain paintings that can really make me feel something when I look at them. The style presented in the Picture Gallery just wasn’t my thing.
After looking at all the paintings, the tour wound its way into the Ball Supper Room, which was set up like a museum exhibit. There were benches for people to rest if needed, and the walls were lined with glass cases displaying artifacts from Queen Victoria’s time at Buckingham Palace. I didn’t stay too long in this room because it was packed full, but the highlights for me were Queen Victoria’s dresses on display.
The next few rooms included the Ballroom, the State Dining Room, The Blue Drawing Room, and the Music Room. I skip over these purely for the fact that they weren’t inherently interesting to me. Perhaps I had gotten to the point in the tour where I wasn’t seeing the stately rooms and fancy interiors with starry eyes anymore. They were all magnificent, but I was weary of looking at it all.
However, when I walked into the White Drawing Room, my heart beat a little faster. This room was so beautiful I thought I might tear up at first. I have firmly decided that if I were to ever decorate a future house in royal style that the White Drawing Room would be my inspiration. The tour then winds down a staircase into the Marble Hall, which is lined with marble statues of great design. It is imminently fascinating to me that some people are able to look at a marble stone and craft such an exquisite statue from it.
The State Rooms tour ends in the Bow Room, which leads out to the garden. I also booked a tour of the Private Gardens, but I had an hour to kill before that. Luckily, there was a café just outside, so I ordered a cute little dessert and planted myself at a table. The dessert was fabulous. I don’t have a picture because I ate it so fast. It was a mini tower of chocolate eclairs and whipped cream, but trust me it was so good that I think I’m having withdrawals from it.
The garden tour was nice, as well. This one was with a tour guide, and he was very knowledgeable about the history of the gardens and the different plant life. My favorite part of the tour was the rose garden. It smelled heavenly and there were so many different varieties of roses. I was surprised to find that overall the garden is more in the style of nature and forests. There were hardly any defined garden beds or intricate landscaping, which I was assuming to find. It was nice and peaceful though, and I can imagine why The Queen and other royals would enjoy such a space.
The garden tour took only 45 minutes and then I headed to the gift shop. They had the most adorable corgi stuffed animals, but I was not about to spend $22ish dollars on one. There were also different styles of tea cups you could buy. I think once I get home in December I will be investing in a tea pot and some tea cups. Maybe I can convince my friends and family to have afternoon tea with me. I suppose if I cook them delicious sandwiches and desserts they won’t have a reason to say no.
The State Rooms and Palace Garden tours were definitely worth it! It was really interesting to see these spaces with my own eyes instead of pictures or videos. I definitely think this is a one-time kind of experience. I’m not sure I would want to pay to go on another tour of it, because I feel like you learn and see everything you need to on the one trip through. The one downside was that I couldn’t take my own pictures inside of the rooms. That is why you see mostly stock photos from the Royal Collection Trust, but I did take a few outside to share.