Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

Things to do, Walks and tours
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The Diamond Diadem (Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013)
Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
The gold state coach on show (Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013)
Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
Queen coronation portrait (Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013)
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
Royal family on the balcony (Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013)
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
Princess Anne (Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013)
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013

Poke around the palace while the royal family are on their hols.

Every summer London's most famous house opens for tours with an accompanying exhibition. As well as exploring the state rooms, visitors in 2016 will take in an exhibition of royal clothing, 'Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe'.

Whether you’re royalist or republican there is no denying the incredible might of Her Majesty’s wardrobe; she’s almost as famous for her impeccable style as she is for, you know, being Queen. Over her 60-year reign, she’s seen trends come, go and come back again, so this exhibition is also a filtered history of post-WWII fashion – filtered because whatever is happening in contemporary fashion has to be tempered for the Queen.
In the ’60s, hemlines crept up, which wasn’t appropriate for a monarch, so she embraced her now iconic A-line skirt suits. When knighting yachtsman Francis Chichester, she wore a cream suit of incredibly clever design: the shape of the skirt places it bang in the ’60s, while the navy trim gives it a nautical look, also tricking the eye into seeing it as shorter.

This exhibition throws a spotlight on the British couturiers the Queen has patronised. Throughout her reign she has worn almost exclusively British designers: from Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, who created some of her impossibly beautiful eveningwear, to Angela Kelly who was responsible for the Queen’s pink ‘Bond Girl’ dress for the London Olympics

It’s the little details that make this exhibition such a joy. In the main exhibition space, you can see the Queen’s dazzling coronation gown – heavy with embroidery and undoubtedly the most important dress that she has ever worn. It’s brilliant to see it in all its glory, instead of shrouded by the velvet robe, and among the embroidered shamrocks representing Ireland, you can see a four-leaf clover added by Hartnell for luck on the big day.

An entire corridor is dedicated to headgear. Sculptural, feathered, her hats are incredible, perhaps because it’s one part of her wardrobe where she can be a bit less restrained. This exhibition also tells the story of a woman ageing in the public eye. As Britain’s longest-serving monarch celebrates her ninetieth birthday this year, she is the most recognisable and most photographed woman in the world, so not only has her wardrobe responded to fashion, it has developed with her. The full-skirted, sparkling dresses she wore as a young monarch are unthinkable now.

Throughout her reign she has remained a sartorial icon. While Kate Middleton might pick up a bargain in Reiss, compared to her grandma-in-law, her style is beyond basic. Miriam Bouteba

A visit to the State Rooms usually takes around two to two and a half hours. Be prepared for airport-style security and don't expect to get away with taking any selfies.



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Sonia C

This never disappoints. I go most summers & I still look forward to my visit. The exhibition this summer is "Fashioning a Reign" a retrospective of the Queen's style over the decades. Some of the dresses are exquisite & without a doubt her coronation gown is the star of the show. For me the Norman Hartnell's designs are a real highlight & showcase her beautiful wardrobe of a glamorous bygone age.


If you have never been inside Buckingham Palace during its Summer Opening, then you should arrange to do so asap! This not only for tourists but also it's a great day out for locals.

When her Majesty the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace and stays in Windsor Castle, (that's roughly after 20th July and for 3 months every year), Buckingham Palace State rooms are open to the public. 1st question: Are Queen's rooms i.e. bedroom, kitchen etc. open to visit? Of course no you stupid. Only the State Rooms and the Palace Gardens are open. And what are the State Rooms? Are the ones that Queen meets people like ministers, diplomats etc. 

You will need about 2-3 hours to spend here and you will be given a really informative audio/video tour guide as you enter. The tickets worth every penny you pay and they are valid for one year as soon as you stamp them on the back on your way to exit. So you can come even next year or as many times as you like. 

This year 2016, they made a slight change in some of the rooms in order to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday and thus hundrends of her dresses are displayed there.

No photography is allowed apart from the outside of the Palace, at the end of your tour in the Palace Gardens. 

Julie R

This is somewhere that I have always wanted to tick off my list of places to visit, but have been waiting for a 2 for 1 offer as it seemed far too pricey for me.  However, by sister suggested going for a visit as a 50th birthday treat for her, so off we went.

One important thing that you need to know before you go, is to 'go before you go' - there are only toilets at the end of the tour, so there is no opportunity to spend a Queen's penny once you get to the palace before joining the tour.

No photography is allowed until after you have completed the tour and are in the public park of the Palace gardens  (you can take a picture of the toilets!).

We were given an audio guide, which led us through various rooms of the palace.  It is all at the back part of the Palace, so you don't get to stand on the famous balcony.  The tour is incredibly informative and I was once again pleasantly surprised to find further confirmation of the historical accuracy of Blackadder in that a log of the artwork, sculptures etc were purchase by George IV, who seemed to be a bit of a spendthrift, as did the Prince Regent, played by Hugh Laurie in Blackadder the Third. 

We also got to see a special exhibition for the Queen's 90th birthday of her dresses over the years.  This too was interesting, but there were so many people at this part of the exhibition that it was hard to get near the exhibits, or to move between exhibits as quickly as we would have liked.

We spent two hours looking round the Palace and would have spent a bit longer, but we had a combined ticket which included a tour of the gardens and we needed to get to the end to join this tour.  This too turned out to be very interesting - I'm not normally into walking around gardens, but it was very informative.

There is a large gift shop at the end toilets (yeah!) and a café, all, as expected, with tourist prices,

We were even able to get our ticket stamped so that we could return any time we liked in the next year (although it is only open a couple of months).  Even though it is very expensive to visit (I think it was £30 per ticket), I think it is worth it, it is just a shame you can't take pictures inside, although I can understand why.

Sue D

Absolutely fabulous place to visit including the d Queens dresses _ my sister and I were quite picky about the quality of the clothes as we grew up with my Mum who was a court dressmaker _ only years later do we realise how lucky we were.

The only downside to the tour was the horrendous queuing to gain entry! _ so be prepared. Maybe it was a bad day but ...


Staff were extremely helpful when it seemed we were going to miss the garden tour due to the lateness of our earlier entry to the state apartments.

Look forward to another visit next year with the annual pass.

Blandine R

It's really worth it. It's awesome: very interesting and wow! beautiful! I spent about 3 hours visiting The Queen's gallery, The Royal Mews and The State Rooms, and I'm very happy about this visit.


just spent 1 week in London and booked the visit to Buckingham Palace in advance. The dress is really beautifully crafted and Fabergé objects were delightful & delicate works of art.