Visiting Buckingham Palace State Rooms and Gardens

Buckingham Palace is beloved by tourists.  Even when it is not open to the public crowds can be found outside craning for a view of either the Queen or the Changing of the Guard.  Every summer when the Queen heads to Scotland for her own summer holiday, the Buckingham Palace State Rooms are opened up to the public gaze. 2021 is set to be different, instead the Gardens will be open and there will guided tours only of the Palace.

Buckingham Palace audio guide

Buckingham Palace State Rooms review

State Rooms are intended to dazzle and dazzle Buckingham Palace certainly does.  It all begins with plush red and low level gilding and then you find yourself at the base of a white and gold staircase that seems to head upwards into infinity whilst branching off into ever more extravagant interiors.

State Banquet Buckingham Palace
The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace prepared for a State BanquetRoyal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015

Stately homes are often in a state of semi-shaded gloom, as blinds are kept lowered and windows shut to control climate and help preserve the fixtures and fittings.  Buckingham Palace is a busy workplace and here the windows are not only not shaded but, on the day of our visit, wide open to let a welcome breeze in.  The junior CW’s were especially taken with a secret door in the White Drawing Room, it leads to the private apartments.  It is concealed behind the mirror on the left hand side of picture, we liked to think of the Queen lurking there and pouncing out to surprise her visitors.

Buckingham Palace The State Rooms White Drawing Room
Buckingham Palace White Drawing Room
The Royal Collection © 2002, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Photo: Derry Moore

Every year Buckingham Palace has a different special exhibition in the State Rooms.  2019 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  Queen Victoria was the first to use Buckingham Palace the the headquarters of the Royal Family and created the Palace as we know it today.  I especially liked the costume which the Queen wore for the Stuart Ball, which shows just how very tiny she was. 

Check out my post about Queen Victoria's London if you would like to find out more about Victoria and Albert changed London.
Queen Victoria's costume for the Stuart Ball.
Queen Victoria’s costume for the Stuart Ball
Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

Buckingham Palace Gardens

In most years you just glimpse the 39 acres of the Buckingham Palace gardens as you leave the State Rooms. 2021 is going to be different. You will be able to explore the gardens including the magnificent 156 metre herbaceous border. Even better you will be able to picnic on the lawns. To say that I am excited about picnicing on the lawns of Buckingham Palace is an understatement. Guided tours of the gardens will be available but are not mandatory.

2021 Buckingham Palace State Room Tours

Ordinarily you wander around Buckingham Palace at your own pace. Stopping to admire the art works or the view out of the window as you fancy 2021 is going to be a bit different with numbers restricted in the wake of Covid. Six guided tours of the Palace and Gardens will take place each day in July – September.

Treasures of Buckingham Palace at the Queen’s Gallery

2021 was always going to be a little bit different as the Picture Gallery is undergoing rewiring and redecoration. All the pictures which usually hang in the Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery are currently on display at the Queen’s Gallery. To see the paintings hung on plain (well plainish) walls as opposed to the rococo gilt of Buckingham Palace and at eye level rather is a revelation. Exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery are always excellent but this one is unmissable.

Buckingham Palace Garden tea room

Exiting Buckingham Palace is not only via the gift shop (yes I do have a Buckingham Palace wooden spoon) but via the gardens as well which gives the opportunity to see the back of the Palace and to take photos.

Buckingham Palace rear view
Buckingham Palace from the Gardens

Have you visited Buckingham Palace?  What did you think?

Buckingham Palace State Rooms Tickets

  • Open: Buckingham Palace State Rooms and Garden open July – September
  • Admission: Gardens only Adult £16.50 plus £6.50 for a Garden Tour
  • Guided Tour of State Rooms and Garden: Adult £60
  • Have your ticket stamped on your way out to make it an annual pass
  • Treasures of Buckingham Palace are on show at the Queen’s Gallery
  • Make sure you book, details available here
Visiting Buckingham Palace State Rooms



  1. September 9, 2015 / 3:29 pm

    I just did this tour a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I couldn’t believe how many rooms the tour took you through – and still functioning rooms at that!

  2. September 11, 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Quite pricey but it sounds like you get a lot for your money. It’s great that they’ve provided tea-rooms. I’d like to visit, you’ve tempted me with the idea of tea on the lawn.

    • September 11, 2015 / 12:38 pm

      Pricey but you can visit again if the fact takes you!

  3. September 12, 2015 / 9:46 pm

    We’ve done the Buckingham Palace tour and it was amazing, we really enjoyed it. Thank you for reminding me of a lovely day. #weekendblogshare

  4. August 2, 2018 / 1:21 pm

    We did the tour many years ago when it first began – it’s an amazing place with such a special collection of paintings from all the great artists.

    We also had the privilege of going to a Royal Garden Party (I was nominated by DfE for services to education) in 2013. It was a beautiful day and the gardens were lovely – we were free to wander round them and it was really peaceful considering we were in the middle of London. Military brass bands played and there were lots of Olympic athletes from 2012 there plus the usual celebrities and VIPS. Such an incredible experience; we were about 6 feet away from the Queen and Prince Philips when they did their walkabout. The tiny squares of chocolate cake with a little crown on top were delicious!

    • Catherine
      August 2, 2018 / 1:47 pm

      How fantastic to be honoured with a garden party invite, those cakes are special!

Share your thoughts

%d bloggers like this: