The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace open from today (Saturday 20th of July) and there’s lots to do and see for families with children of all ages. Take a journey alongside Rex the corgi (your family multimedia guide) and learn about life at the palace during Queen Victoria’s reign.
As you explore and marvel at the lavish interiors you can walk through the steps of many a royal before you, whether it is in the Music Room where prince William was christened or along the Ambassadors Stairs where heads of state shake hands with the queen.
The State Dining Room gives a glimpse into what family life may have been like for Queen Victoria and her family. Fond of food and partial to the odd dinner party, supping alongside Queen Victoria’s 9 children and 42 grandchildren would have been an animated feast.
The glamour of the Palace include many beautiful and highly prized art pieces from the Royal Collection, the largest and most important art collection in the world. The embracing Mars and Venus sculptured by Antonio Canova as well as other masterpieces in The Marble Room took our breath away.
Visitors will also learn how Victoria made Buckingham Palace what it remains today – the headquarters of the Monarchy, a rallying point for national celebrations and a family home – and how she created traditions that still endure, including appearances by the Royal Family on the balcony at the front of the Palace and the annual Summer Garden Parties.
Guests to the palace can have a peek inside Queen Victoria’s diary and read her impressions of the Stuart Ball of July 1851 where she comments ‘I was so proud and pleased to see my beloved Albert looking so handsome, truly royal and distinguished, and so much admired. I must say our costumes were beautifully made.’ Queen Victoria illustrated her Journal entry with a sketch of herself and Prince Albert with Prince Charles Leiningen (Victoria’s half-brother) in their Restoration outfits.
The Ball of 1856 has been recreated for visitors using a Victorian illusion technique known as Pepper’s Ghost and a series of digital projections around the Ballroom. Four couples appear performing the opening waltz to Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, while the original Italian Renaissance-inspired decoration of silk hangings and Raphael-inspired cartoons, devised by Prince Albert’s artistic advisor, Ludwig Grüner, is recreated on the walls of the room and is simply magical.
After you get your fix of history and marvel at the opulent interiors, young Londoners can head to the Family Pavilion for hands-on activities, dressing-up, books, games, and loads more.
Buckingham Palace has a brilliant shop with souvenirs, books and mementos as well as a cafeteria with snacks and treats but our favourite was the pastel Buckingham Palace Dairy ice cream pavilion serving soft scoops in flavours such as Windsor Vanilla, Windsor Strawberry and Mango Sorbet. Yum.
Buckingham Palace are hosting a family friendly festival from 24th until the 26th of August 2019 where gardens that are normally off limits will be open and visitors can enjoy specially curated family musical storytelling, outdoor adventures, arts, crafts and lots more surprises.
Buckingham Palace is open to the public until 29 September 2019. Tickets cost £25 for an adult, £14 for under 17s and under 5s are free. More info and booking here.