SIGHT­SEE­ING

Don’t just stand out­side Buck­ing­ham Palace − go be­hind the gilded gates and take a pri­vate tour, says Kohinoor Sahota.

Where London - - Contents -

We show you how you can take an ex­clu­sive guided tour of the royal res­i­dence, Buck­ing­ham Palace.

When you set foot inside Buck­ing­ham Palace, it is like step­ping into a fairy tale. There are grand stair­cases, crys­tal chan­de­liers and or­nate fur­nish­ings. It may be one of the most fa­mous palaces in the world, but for the Bri­tish pub­lic it is a fo­cal point where they can share in the royal fam­ily’s sor­row and hap­pi­ness. When Princess Diana passed away, the en­trance was cov­ered in a sea of flow­ers; and when Prince Wil­liam wed Kate Mid­dle­ton, the crowds be­low the bal­cony cheered as they kissed. It’s not of­ten you can visit, but with the Ex­clu­sive Guided Tours of the State Rooms, you can get a rare glimpse into what life is like for a royal.

Dur­ing the tour, which lasts for two and a half hours, you visit 19 rooms. There is the Throne Room, which is where Wil­liam and Kate had their wed­ding pho­tos taken; and a world-class art col­lec­tion, which in­cludes Van Dyck and Canaletto. You don’t just look at the finer things in life, but also taste them: the visit in­cludes a glass of Cham­pagne.

The palace is steeped in his­tory. It was less than 200 years ago that it be­came what we recog­nise to­day. Ar­chi­tect John Nash re­mod­elled the town­house into a palace, and Ed­ward Blore cre­ated the front façade. Since 1837, when Queen Vic­to­ria moved in, it has been the of­fi­cial res­i­dence and work­place for the Bri­tish monarch. The palace has been vis­ited by Ron­ald Rea­gan, Barack Obama and James Bond, in the 2012 Olympics Open­ing Cer­e­mony.

For full list­ings, turn to p. 24

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