Most of the year Buckingham Palace is closed to the public. However during the summer months, when the Queen heads on holiday to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, part of the palace is open to the public. You can wander through 19 lavishly furnished state rooms including the Throne Room and Queen Victoria's Picture Gallery (which includes works by Rembrandt, Canaletto and Vermeer). You may also go out into part of the gardens (the largest private gardens in London).
The rest of the year, you can only gaze through the gates at the imposing facade and the balcony from which Charles and Diana waved when they married all those years ago and William and Kate famously shared two kisses. This front, or eastern entrance, is also where The Changing of the Guard happens, when the Foot Guards of the Household Regiment, who guard the royal family, change shifts.
From July 23 to October 3, 2011, when you visit Buckingham Palace, you’ll also be treated to a special exhibition featuring Kate Middleton's wedding dress, worn during her wedding to Prince William in April 2011. The dress was designed for Kate (now better known as the Duchess of Cambridge) by English designer Sarah Burton, who designs for Alexander McQueen. You'll have a rare opportunity to view this stunning creation and admire the magnificence of its craftsmanship up close.
Another enticing feature for 2011 is the Royal Fabergé exhibition, displaying masterpieces by Carl Fabergé, the celebrated Russian goldsmith and jeweler. See his meticulously designed Imperial Easter Eggs and dazzling jewel-encrusted boxes that were created for successive generations of the British Royal Family.
Review by Laura M, November 2012
Doing what: Royal London Sightseeing Tour with Changing of the Guard Ceremony
this tour was great it was nice just sitting on the bus and watching all the wonderful sights go by. the changing of the guard is fantastic to watch but very crowded, stay near the fences when the come gown the road, then if you can stand on a wall so you can see them over the big wall at buckingham
Getting to the Tower of London early was a huge benefit in beating the crowds but this tour doesn't allow nearly enough time there. We managed to view only a small section of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace (full time required is hour and half!) before spending time at Covent Garden for lunch. Our guide, David, was very informative on London's history, Westminster Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral. The London Eye was a great addition to this trip and a good way to get an overall picture of London.
Review by Jack C, USA, October 2012
Doing what: Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle Day Trip from London
Highlight was being able to enter Buckingham Palace which can only be done during certain months.