If you are envious of the Queen's accomodation, just think of all the cleaning. In the Middle Ages, the site of the future palace formed part of the Manor of Ebury (also called Eia). The marshy ground was watered by the river Tyburn, which still flows below the courtyard and south wing of the palace. Where the river was fordable (at Cow Ford), the village of Eye Cross grew. Ownership of the site changed hands many times; owners included Edward the Confessor and his queen consort Edith of Wessex in late Saxon times, and, after the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror. William gave the site to Geoffrey de Mandeville, who bequeathed it to the monks of Westminster Abbey. The house which forms the architectural core of the present palace was built for the first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1703 to the design of William Winde. The style chosen was of a large, three-floored central block with two smaller flanking service wings. Buckingham House was eventually sold by Buckingham's descendant, Sir Charles Sheffield, in 1761 to George III for £21,000.
Under the new crown ownership, the building was originally intended as a private retreat for King George III's wife, Queen Charlotte, and was accordingly known as The Queen's House—14 of their 15 children were born there. St. James's Palace, however, remained the official and ceremonial royal residence. Remodelling of the structure began in 1762. After his accession to the throne in 1820, King George IV continued the renovation with the idea in mind of a small, comfortable home (his idea of a small home apparently differed from ours). While the work was in progress, in 1826, the King decided to modify the house into a palace with the help of his architect John Nash. Buckingham Palace finally became the principal royal residence in 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria, who was the first monarch to reside there as her predecessor William IV had died before its completion. While the state rooms were a riot of gilt and colour, the necessities of the new palace were somewhat less luxurious. For one thing, it was reported the chimneys smoked so much that the fires had to be allowed to die down, and consequently the court shivered in icy magnificence. Ventilation was so bad that the interior smelled, and when a decision was taken to install gas lamps, there was a serious worry about the build-up of gas on the lower floors. It was also said that the staff were lax and lazy and the palace was dirty. Following the Queen's marriage in 1840, her husband, Prince Albert, concerned himself with a reorganisation of the household offices and staff, and with the design faults of the palace. The problems were all rectified by the close of 1840. However, the builders were to return within the decade. By 1847, the couple had found the palace too small for court life and their growing family, and consequently the new wing, designed by Edward Blore, was built by Thomas Cubitt, enclosing the central quadrangle
Today the Palace is very much a working building and the centrepiece of Britain's constitutional monarchy. It houses the offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and their immediate family. The Palace is also the venue for great Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures, all of which are organised by the Royal Household. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. Its State Rooms form the nucleus of the working Palace and are used regularly by The Queen and members of the Royal Family for official and State entertaining. More than 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the Royal Garden Parties. Exclusive Guided Tours are only available for limited periods; December 11th 2015 to 31st January 2016, 30th July to 25th September 2016. The tours are of the State Rooms and last between 2 and 2 1/2 hours, including a glass of champagne. Otherwise tickets are available for visits to the State Rooms; or the Royal Day out which also includes the Queens Gallery and Royal Mews.
Location : London SW1A 1AA.
Opening Times: See above for dates.
Monday to Sunday 09:15 to 18:45
Tickets : Exclusive Guided Tours £75.00
Tickets : State Rooms £21.50 , Under 17/disabled £12.30
Tickets : Royal Day Out £37.00 , Under 17/disabled £20.80
Tickets : State Rooms + Gardens Tour £30.50 , Under 17/disabled £18.20
Children under 5 are free
Tel: 0303 123 7334.