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What Is Buckingham Palace?

By B. Turner
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British royal family. While the royals have historically used the palace for administrative tasks and state events, some members of the monarchy continue to call Buckingham Palace home. Contrary to popular belief, it is owned by the British state, and is not considered the property of the monarch. Buckingham Palace hosts numerous official events throughout the year, and is also one of the top tourist attractions in London.

Prior to 1761, the structure that would one day be known as Buckingham Palace was a fairly basic private residence. King George III purchased the building and land in 1761, planning to transform it into a family home. He lived in the home for years, and 14 of his 15 children were born in the house. By 1820, his son George IV decided to transform the house into an official palace. He eventually convinced parliament to fund a massive expansion and renovation that doubled the size of the structure.

In 1837, Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to take up residence in the newly created Buckingham Palace. She and her husband oversaw numerous renovations to accommodate their growing family. When her husband died in 1861, Victoria moved to Windsor Castle, and Buckingham Palace remained empty for many years. It was bombed seven times during World War II, and suffered extensive damage. More renovations followed to restore the structure to its present state.

Buckingham Palace today features 775 rooms, as well as expansive grounds. The building houses 19 impressive state rooms that are used for official events. It also includes 52 bedrooms, as well as 188 bedrooms designated for staff members. The palace features the largest private garden in London, as well as its own lake. The royal mews house cars and carriages, while the mall serves as an official entryway for guests.

Located in Westminster, in London, England, Buckingham Palace is one of the biggest tourist attractions in England. During the summer, visitors can purchase tickets that allow entry into the building's 19 state rooms for guided tours. These rooms also display priceless paintings and furnishings from the royal collection. Those who wish to get a glimpse beyond these rooms will have to find a way to get on the guest list for an official palace event. Outside of the palace, the daily changing of the guard ceremony draws tourists and locals alike.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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