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So you've never been to... Buckingham Palace?

Poke around the palace and roll like a royal for the day – Buckingham Palace is open to mortals until October

By Louise Schwartzkoff |
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Buckingham Palace The throne room
Derry Moore / Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013

Don't be silly. Of course I've been to Buckingham Palace.

Okay, sure, you’ve probably passed by the gilded gates. But have you been inside? Now’s your chance to have a snoop: the State Rooms of Her Maj’s pad are open to visitors until October.

How are the interiors?

As fancy as you’d expect: sweeping staircases, marble fireplaces, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and walls covered with silk. It’s worth picking up an audio guide to learn more about the palace’s treasures. In the Music Room, for instance, every crystal drop on every chandelier was cut by hand during the reign of George IV, and cleaners kept them soot-free using hunks of stale bread.

So, plenty of fancy fittings and furniture. Anything else? 

There’s a banging art collection: the walls of the Picture Gallery are home to paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian. Much of the art is exactly what you’d expect – gilt-framed and classical. But there’s a surprise outside the entrance to the Ball Supper Room: four screenprinted panels by Andy Warhol showing a young Queen Liz in eye-watering shades of magenta, turquoise and yellow.

Any insights on royal life? 

Unsurprisingly, the royal family’s private quarters are firmly off-limits. An army of staff in red and navy uniforms are on hand to keep visitors from straying – albeit with great courtesy and friendliness. The closest you’ll get to the lady of the house is in the large, temporary exhibition of her dresses and accessories, ‘Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe’.

And the corgis?

Nope, sorry. You’ll have to wait until you’re invited to tea.

Read more in our 'So you've never been to...?' series

Read more about Buckingham Palace

Things to do, Walks and tours

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

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.

Or peek around other London attractions

The view over London from Westminster at night, including Big Ben and Westminster Abbey
© Stewart Marsden
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