Planning your visit to Buckingham Palace

0
39

If you’re staying in a hotel in Paddington, it’s considered rude if you don’t drop by Buckingham Palace and say ‘hello’ to the Royal Family. Well, all right, that’s not exactly the case, but it does make an excellent day out. The extraordinary building has much to offer, and although it’s accustomed to tourists who just turn up on the day, it’s considered far more British to plan ahead.

So get a cup of tea on to brew, get a bit of Queen on the speakers and settle down with your corgi before reading our guide to preparing for your visit to Her Majesty.

When is the palace open?

Different parts of Buckingham Palace are open at different times of the year. During the winter, the gilded State Rooms are available to explore on guided tours, although it’s important to book in advance as these happen only on selected dates. Various ticket types allow you access to different parts of the palace – those willing to shell out £35 a person for the Royal Day Out package can have an exclusive guided tour around the The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews. Again, it’s important to book these in advance.

During the summer, however, the Palace is open daily and you can show up from 9:30am to 7:30pm, the last admission being at 5:30pm. During this time, it’s nicer to wander the gardens and explore the outdoor areas.

Visiting Buckingham Palace with the children

Taking the kids to see Buckingham Palace is one of the most worthwhile things you can do on your holiday. Don’t assume that they’re going to be a dry historical experience that is far too heavy on names and dates. Here are some of the things you can do with the children if you take them to Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace Entrance

Start with the Family Multimedia Guide, perfect for those with under-12s. It takes them along the State Rooms, providing a lively commentary that is great for engaging them and drawing attention to the most interesting parts for youngsters. Naturally, it includes an introduction from the famous Prince of Wales himself.

You’ll also want to spend some of your time in Buckingham Palace at the Family Pavilion, which is full of royal and exciting games for children. It’s open throughout July and August and the first week of September, and it provides a great chill-out zone.

Together, it’s also fun to explore the garden – an oasis of calm green space where the children can keep an eye out for birds, fish, insects and other wildlife in their different habitats. Point out the helipad and the lake that Queen Victoria’s husband Albert fell into.

Finally, promise to take them to the gift shop as a reward for their excellent behaviour. Bribery and corruption will get you anywhere.

When is the palace open?

Different parts of Buckingham Palace are open at different times of the year. During the winter, the gilded State Rooms are available to explore on guided tours, although it’s important to book in advance as these happen only on selected dates. Various ticket types allow you access to different parts of the palace – those willing to shell out £35 a person for the Royal Day Out package can have an exclusive guided tour around the The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews. Again, it’s important to book these in advance.

During the summer, however, the Palace is open daily and you can show up from 9:30am to 7:30pm, the last admission being at 5:30pm. During this time, it’s nicer to wander the gardens and explore the outdoor areas.

Visiting Buckingham Palace with the children

Taking the kids to see Buckingham Palace is one of the most worthwhile things you can do on your holiday. Don’t assume that they’re going to be a dry historical experience that is far too heavy on names and dates. Here are some of the things you can do with the children if you take them to Buckingham Palace.

Start with the Family Multimedia Guide, perfect for those with under-12s. It takes them along the State Rooms, providing a lively commentary that is great for engaging them and drawing attention to the most interesting parts for youngsters. Naturally, it includes an introduction from the famous Prince of Wales himself.

You’ll also want to spend some of your time in Buckingham Palace at the Family Pavilion, which is full of royal and exciting games for children. It’s open throughout July and August and the first week of September, and it provides a great chill-out zone.

Together, it’s also fun to explore the garden – an oasis of calm green space where the children can keep an eye out for birds, fish, insects and other wildlife in their different habitats. Point out the helipad and the lake that Queen Victoria’s husband Albert fell into.

Finally, promise to take them to the gift shop as a reward for their excellent behaviour. Bribery and corruption will get you anywhere.

A kid-based tour

While the people at Buckingham Palace do their best with a family-interactive tour, you can make things even easier for yourself by doing a bit of research beforehand. Find out the most interesting facts about the building and try and work them into the visit. For example, the Queen enters the State Rooms through a secret door that leads straight through to the Royal Apartments. See if the kids can spot it. (Hint: It’s in the white drawing room!)

Tell them they should keep their eyes peeled for hidden signs and symbols related to the Royals. Crowns, lions and roses all count. You could even devise a game – five points for a crown, ten for a lion and fifteen for a rose. Or transform the trip into an episode of Game of Thrones, in which the kids need to watch out for the many thrones throughout the Palace and guess what they’re for.

Practically speaking

The lavatories and baby-change facilities are located at the end of the visitor route. It’s worth noting that pushchairs cannot be taken into the State Rooms for safety reasons, but the Palace can provide alternatives such as baby carriers. If the children start demanding food, there is a reasonable cafe in the Garden where you can indulge in sweet treats and a cup of tea before setting off again.

From the Park Grand London Paddington, you can reach the Palace by travelling on one of the many bus services to Victoria – the 36 and the 436 are among the more regular options. It’s also possible to get the Tube to Green Park via the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines from Paddington, or else hop on the Circle line to Victoria and walk up from there.