Buckingham Palace is one of London’s dozens of iconic buildings. But did you know that it was just a ‘house’ when it was constructed? Or that it was originally supposed to be a mulberry garden?
Below, we shed light on what is arguably the Capital’s most famous abode, including some facts that most Brits don’t even know.
The Royals claimed the grounds long before Buckingham Palace was built
Before there was a palace, a small village owned by Edward the Confessor occupied the land where Buckingham Palace now stands. The village was lost following the Norman Conquest and later reclaimed by Henry VIII in 1531. King James I had ambitious plans to plant a mulberry garden on the grounds. He had to abandon his grand plan after using the wrong variety of silkworm. Nearly a century later in 1703, Buckingham House was constructed. It was converted into the palace you can see today in 1820 by architect John Nash.
Victoria was the first monarch to officially occupy Buckingham Palace
Of course, plenty of royal family members lived in Buckingham Palace before Queen Victoria. The building only actually passed into Royal hands in 1761, when George III bought the place for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Back then, George paid £21,000 for the palace, which is about £3 million in today’s prices. Still a bargain, we think you’ll agree. In 1837, Queen Victoria became the first monarch to call Buckingham Palace her official residence.
There are rumours of secret tunnels beneath the surface
Admittedly, this is something that has yet to be proved, but we do love a good gossip when it concerns the secrets of London. The London Underground is the world’s oldest metro network, so it wouldn’t be surprising if rumours of secret tunnels and even stations beneath the Palace were true. If you visit Buckingham Palace, you probably won’t see any evidence of the tunnels that supposedly give the Royals a safe exit if required. You will, however, see the State Room and the beautiful gardens.
Buckingham Palace is not featured in the Crown
Sorry to spill this news to fans of the Netflix hit The Crown, but no scenes in the TV show were shot in Buckingham Palace. After all – it’s a royal residence, not a movie set. However, if you want to see recreations of the Queen’s humble abode, you can visit the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, which was used in place of the Palace’s exterior. Most interior shots of the ‘Palace’ on the Crown were shot in Wilton House in Salisbury.
The Queen isn’t always home, but there’s always something going on
The Queen, as you might expect, has a lot of houses, which means she isn’t always inside Buckingham Palace. If she’s in, you’ll see the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom hung from the roof. However, if she’s in one of her quaint holiday homes (such as Windsor Castle), there’s still a lot to see. The Changing of the Guard occurs every morning at 10:45am. And, if you see any swanky cars entering the premises, chances are there’s a very rich or famous person inside.
Just about anybody can pay a visit to the Queen’s home
Visits to Buckingham Palace were once reserved for the upper echelons of society. Now, even us peasants can have a peek around. You’re unlikely to get a dinner date with Her Majesty, but you can enjoy an afternoon too at The Rubens, explore the Queen’s Gallery, visit the State Room and much more.
If you want to learn more about the Royal Family, make sure you pay a visit to our London Tours page. You’ll find plenty of exciting tours that will help you explore the history of the British Royal Family.