I had never considered visiting Buckingham Palace as I didn’t think the boys would be interested; however, when The Royal Collection Trust contacted us for a VIP visit, they absolutely jumped at the chance! And I must say, I was pretty surprised. And then pleasantly surprised that we all loved it and would thoroughly recommend it.
We started our tour by being front row at the change of the Guards, and I found it mesmerising to watch. There were hundreds of people from all walks of life and various nationalities, and everyone seemed to be in awe of our culture and a ceremony that dates back to the 15th Century. It was rather magical.
The changing of the guards is precisely that, a ceremony where The Queen’s Guards hand over the responsibility of Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to new Guards. And they do so with conviction, pure preciseness and dedication that is simply unmatched.
If you’re planning a trip, you can witness the changing of the Guards daily during June – July. Throughout August-May, it takes place Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 10.45 am, and it lasts around 45 minutes. To watch this incredible “show” is free, but make sure you check the times (the times and dates are set by the British army, plan in advance and get there early as it can be jam-packed. Oh, and watch out for pick-pocketers. It is rife around there despite the amount of police and guards that are around!
After we experienced this iconic ceremony, we were escorted by the Guards to a private buggy where we drove across the gravel of Buckingham Palace in front of hundreds of people. I kid you not; it was probably one of the most surreal moments of our lives!
Everyone was taking photos and videos of us, waving and cheering, and as the palace gates opened to allow us through, my jaw was on the floor, and I just thought:
Oh, Wow! This is what it must be like to be a real-life princess!
And proceeded to do a royal wave. To the kids’ absolute disgust… they won’t even let me upload the video because they are so mortified.
We haven’t even entered The Palace yet, but this has to be one of the craziest reviews we have ever been invited to. The boys are already on cloud-9 before we even step through the doors.
Walking into The Palace is obviously going to be as incredible as you’re imagining – and more. Decadent, rich, lavish, opulent, extravagant, ornate and sumptuous decor everywhere you look; it’s steeped in history and covered in golds and deep reds. I was in my element checking out the scenery and thinking, ooohhhh, I would totally have a table shaped like an elephant there or a corset style lamp underneath that picture of The Queen. My mind was running wild in my interior designer parallel universe.
As you wander around The State Rooms, The White Drawing Room, The Throne Room, The Ball Room, The Music Room, The Picture Gallery, The Grand Staircase and The Palace Garden, it almost feels surreal, but this is genuinely the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. As in, THEEEE Queen!
According to Finn, HRH munches on her porridge, raspberries and blueberries, donning her loungewear and slippers ready for a day on the sofa watching Phillip Schofield on TV – I can’t quite picture this in real life. Still, I did take a moment to envisage his thoughts.
That is the beauty of visiting here; you don’t need to be a Royalist to enjoy or appreciate the tour. Everything you see is part of British heritage. Everything tells a story, and there’s something here for everyone, even if an 11-year-old is walking around picturing Prince Charles flossing in The Music Room while The Princes play Drum ‘n’ Bass and shout, “Go Dad! Go Dad! Go Dad! Go Dad!!” At least he is enjoying himself as well.
While we were at Buckingham Palace, I was looking closely at the disabled facilities. On the website, they state:
Manual wheelchairs are available to borrow, free of charge but subject to availability, for the duration of a visit. They must be pre-booked by contacting the Specialist Sales team +44 (0)303 123 7324 or email@example.com.
You can use your own wheelchair provided it’s compatible with the lifts inside Buckingham Palace. The lifts measure 148cm in depth by 94 cm in width with a weight limit of 500kg; and 160cm in depth by 94cm in width with a weight limit of 750kg.
Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs are welcome. If you have a Class 3 vehicle, you will be asked to set the speed limiter to 4mph. Mobility scooters are permitted in the Palace, provided they are compatible with the lifts. The lifts measure 148cm in depth by 94 cm in width with a weight limit of 500kg; and 160cm in depth by 94cm in width with a weight limit of 750kg. Manual wheelchairs are available for transfer – these must be booked in advance.
Rollators (wheeled walkers) are available to borrow, free of charge, but must be pre-booked by contacting the Specialist Sales team +44 (0)303 123 7324 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The palace gardens have multiple paths suitable for wheelchair and mobility access, including numerous suitable toilets. While in The Palace, you can access the rooms via two lifts, and seating throughout your tour is available on request should it be required. However, the Grand Staircase and Silk Tapestry staircase has lots of stairs, none of which you can avoid, but there is a permanent handrail on both sides with lots of staff around to assist if need be.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at The Palace. It was great to visit after spending my whole life living either in or just outside London, but it was even more lovely to spend it with my family and enjoy a day out together.