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 State Rooms are opened up to public gaze. Once you have a ticket, provided you have it stamped and signed as you leave, it is valid for a year. We did just that when we visited last summer. Make sure you ring ahead and book a slot don’t just turn up on spec.
Whilst the State Rooms don’t change from year to year, the exhibition in the ballroom does. Fashioning a Reign is the theme for this year’s exhibition. Frocks, hats and ceremonial robes all get a look in. First of all you have one outfit for each decade, starting with her Christening Robe and ending with the outfit the Queen wore to parachute into the Olympic park with James Bond. Two versions were made of that one, much to the bemusement of all those involved: only on the night did the reason become apparent!
Every time the Queen appears in public during the day she wears a hat. That’s a lot of hats. One wall is full of them. What amazed me is how many you look at and think, I remember seeing pictures of the Queen wearing that. Small hats, feathered hats, plain hats, they are all here. The one type of hat that she doesn’t wear is a big floppy one for that would obscure her face.
Turn the corner and you find your self face to face with the Queen’s wedding and coronation dresses. The wedding dress is adorned with beautiful embroidery that must have taken hours. Breath-taking is the word for the coronation dress. It sparkles, embroidered as it is with silver and gold threads with diamante thrown in for good measure. As befits such a beautiful dress the Queen didn’t only wear it for the Coronation but put it to good service for opening Parliaments around the Commonwealth.
Floor length evening gowns along with hats are not something that appear in vast quantites in most people’s wardrobes. The Queen has lots and she thinks carefully about her hosts when deciding what to wear, whether its bright and cheerful California Poppies in America or modest long sleeves in the Middle East. There also lots of variations on the white and sparkly long frock, all of which are stunning. What amazed me most about all of the outfits is how tiny the Queen is and how very slender she must have been when she first became monarch.
Tours of the State Rooms finish with a stroll through the gardens to the exit. As soon as you leave the Palace, a pop-up tea room has been constructed. Superior tea and delicious cakes can be eaten whilst gazing across the Queen’s lawn.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE STATE ROOMS
23 July – 31 August 2016 Open daily 9.15am-7.45pm
1 September – 2 October 2016 Open daily 9.15am-6.45pm
Admission: Adults £21.50, 60+ £27.50, Children £18.20, Family £79.20
Tickets are valid for 1 year if stamped and signed on exit and a multi media guide is included