It’s arguably one of the most famous palaces in the world, and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Buckingham Palace.
1. It’s located in the City of Westminster
Even though Buckingham Palace is considered to be one of the most famous buildings in London, it’s actually not located within the historical center of the city.
The Palace is located in the City of Westminster, just southwest of the City of London. Numerous other famous landmarks are located in its vicinities such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, and Big Ben.
The long street fronting the Palace referred to as “The Mall” leads directly to one of the most famous squares in all of London, Trafalgar Square.
2. Many famous people have owned the property
During the Middle Ages, the area where Buckingham Palace is located was known as the “Manor of Ebury” or more commonly known as “Eia.” This manor was located a few miles to the southwest of the walled city of London.
Because of its favorable location, this manor used to be owned by multiple important people, including Edward the Confessor, one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England, and William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England.
The latter gave the manor away and it ended up in the hands of the monks of Westminster Abbey. It wasn’t until the year 1536 that the site of Buckingham Palace was transferred back to royal hands when King Henry VIII acquired it.
3. It originally was just a large townhouse
The Manor of Ebury was leased out to various owners over the centuries. It’s believed that the first house to be constructed on the site was built around 1624. This didn’t resemble the huge palace of today in any way though and was only considered to be a large townhouse.
The garden, which was to become the largest garden in all of London, was developed around the year 1633.
4. The core of the current palace was built in 1703
The owner of the property in the early 18th century was the first to build the core of the palace we know today. The first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby built “Buckingham House” in 1703.
This house consisted of a large 3-floor central block and 2 smaller blocks serving as service wings flanking it. The fact that it was referred to as “Buckingham House” simply means it didn’t resemble anything like the massive palace of today.
5. It had a different name when it became royal property
Buckingham House was again Royal Property when it was acquired by King George III who had bought it as a gift for his wife, Queen Charlotte.
Because of this, Buckingham Palace was known by then as the “Queen’s House” as she made it her residence in 1775 and gave birth to at least 14 of her 15 children there.
The official royal residence at the time was St James’s Palace which is also located in the City of Westminster and is still the London residence of several minor members of the royal family.
6. The Queen did some cheap shopping after the French Revolution
It’s not known exactly when Buckingham House started being called Buckingham Palace, but it was certainly called this way during the French Revolution in the late 18th century.
The reason we can be sure of this is that Queen Charlotte did some cheap shopping when the revolutionaries sold off all the interior decorations of the Palace of Versailles after the French Revolution of 1789.
Shopping at liquidation prices at Versailles must have been a dream come through!
7. Queen Victoria made Buckingham Palace her London residence
The Queen’s House was transformed into the official royal residence of Britain’s monarchy in the year 1837 during the ascension of Queen Victoria. She was the first monarch to officially reside here.
8. The palace almost served as the new Houses of Parliament
Just before this event, Buckingham Palace nearly got a completely different purpose. A large fire broke out at the Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament, in 1834 and destroyed just about the entire building.
One suggestion was to transform Buckingham Palace and use it as the main meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The offer was made by King William IV who disliked the palace so much that he attempted to get rid of it in this way. The offer was rejected after it turned out that the palace was unsuitable for parliamentary use.
The Houses of Parliament eventually got rebuilt, along with Big Ben, something that nearly didn’t happen.
9. Buckingham Palace was far from luxurious initially
King William IV didn’t make this offer for anything. There’s a good reason he wanted to get rid of the palace as it was far from luxurious in the 1830s.
It’s reported that the fireplaces created so much smoke that they had to be put out, resulting in the palace being extremely cold during the winter months.
When gas lamps were installed, there was a serious worry of the lower floors filling up with gas, possibly resulting in an explosion. The palace was also dirty and the staff unsuited to keep things clean.
Who would have thought that Buckingham Palace was a dump before the year 1840, right?
10. The public façade of the palace was built in 1837
Just 10 years after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had officially moved into the palace, it was deemed too small and an extra wing known as the “East Front” was constructed between 1847 and 1850.
This section is now the public façade of Buckingham Palace and used by the royal family to appear on the balcony, and for the famous “Changing of the Guard” ceremonies.
11. The building hasn’t changed since 1913
Buckingham Palace hasn’t seen any major renovations since the year 1913. It was then that the public façade of the Palace was redecorated in the Belle Époque cream and gold color scheme.
This was a major improvement compared to the original decoration that was completed in 1850.
12. Buckingham Palace has a total of 775 rooms
While Buckingham Palace doesn’t appear to be that big from the outside compared to some other major palaces, it’s actually massive. It has a total of 775 rooms, including 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms, 52 principal bedrooms, and 19 staterooms.
It also has its own post office, cinema, swimming pool, doctor’s surgery, and jeweler’s workshop.
The Palace is 355 feet (108 meters) wide, 390 feet (120 meters) deep, and 80 feet (24 meters) high, and contains a total of 830,000 square feet (77,000 square meters) of floor space.
13. The Palace was bombed 9 times during World War II
One of the most remarkable facts about Buckingham Palace is that it was bombed 9 times by German bombers during World War II.
The worst bombing happened in 1940, an event that destroyed the palace chapel. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in the Palace when a bomb was dropped in the central courtyard and dozens of windows were shattered.
When the King and Queen inspected their bombed home, the Queen famously remarked as a reference that the war didn’t care about rich or poor:
I’m glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face.Queen Elizabeth after Buckingham Palace as bombed during World War II.
14. This is the biggest room at Buckingham Palace
The largest room at Buckingham Palace is the Ballroom which was built in the year 1854. It’s 120 feet (36.6 meters) long, 60 feet (18 meters) wide, and 45 feet (13.5 meters) high.
This room has been famously used for the conferring of knighthoods by dubbing with a sword. It’s also used for formal dinners such as State Banquets.
15. Foreign heads of state are entertained in the Belgian Suite
Buckingham Palace is usually the location where foreign heads of state are entertained by the Queen on visits to Britain.
So where do these people stay, you might wonder?
They are housed at the “Belgian Suites,” a series of rooms located on the ground floor of the north-facing Garden Wing. They were named after King Leopold I of Belgium, the uncle of Queen Victoria, and Prince Albert.
Personal meetings are usually held in the “1844 Room,” a sitting and audience room of the Belgian Suites.
16. The Palace houses a major public art gallery
One of the most popular attractions of Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s Gallery, the main public art gallery that exhibits works of art from the Royal Collection. This gallery has a separate entrance at the south wing of the Palace.
There are about 450 paintings on public display at all times by artists such as Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens, and Vermeer.
It also sometimes houses exhibitions from other famous artists such as a display of over 200 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in 2019.
17. Buckingham Palace is a major tourist attraction in London
Over 50,000 guests are invited and entertained at the palace every single year. If you didn’t get your invitation, don’t worry, apart from the art gallery you can also directly visit the palace as well.
The palace’s staterooms have been open to the public during August and September, and some other times during the year too.
Over half a million people visit Buckingham Palace every year!
In the words of the Royal Collection Trust, Buckingham Palace looks like “everybody’s idea of a palace.”