Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Buckingham Palace

Britain…one of the most historically rich countries in the world.  With so many attractions, you could spend a whole lifetime on the island and still not see everything.  However, if I were to go to the United Kingdom today, there is only one thing I would want to do.  I would want to see how much sh** the guards in front of Buckingham Palace could take before they assaulted me! 

Originally named Buckingham House, the core of today’s palace was built as a townhouse for the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, Jeff Sheffield, in 1703.  It was later acquired by George III, king of Great Britain and Ireland, in 1761 as a private residence for his Queen Charolette.  During the 19th century, the palace was enlarged to form three new wings and a central courtyard. 

Buckingham Palace is known today as the official London residence of the British monarch.  This transition occurred in 1837 with the accession of Queen Victoria.  The palace’s last major additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries adding the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregates to meet crowds.

With 828,818 square feet of floor space, the title ‘palace’ seems very fitting.  Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms comprising of 19 staterooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.  It also employs 450 people year round.  Three of the most notable areas of the palace are the Garden, the Royal Mews, and the Mall

The Garden is located at the rear of the palace and is the largest privately owned garden in London.  Containing an artificial lake, its huge size makes it look more like a public park.  The Queen of England holds her annual summer garden parties here along with celebrations for royal milestones. 

 aerial shot of Buckingham Garden


Next to the Garden is the Royal Mews where the royal carriages, including the Gold State Coach, are stored along with the horses. 

outside Royal Mews

inside Royal Mews

Gold State Coach

The Mall is a ceremonial approach route to the palace that was designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1911, in tribute to Queen Victoria.  All cavalcades and motorcades of visiting heads of state, as well as by the Royal Family use the route for the State Opening of Parliament and “Trooping the Colour” each year.

the Mall

The Queen’s Gallery contains pieces from the Royal Collection open for public view.  The palace’s state rooms are open from late July through September. 

Did you know?- If the flag is flying on the flagpole on top of the palace, the Queen is home.

Now…as far as the guards are concerned, the only time to see them is during a ceremony called “Changing the Guards”.  A fact most people don’t realize is that these guards are also soldiers including some of the most elite fighters in the British Army.  All palace guards come from the Household Cavalry Regiment, which includes:

•    the Life Guards
•    Blues and Royals
•    Grenadier Guards
•    Coldstream Guards
•    Scots Guards
•    Irish Guards
•    Welsh Guards

These defenders will not move as a result of your actions, so be feel free to taunt away.  However, I must insist that you do not insult the guards’ country and/or person through the use of profanity or any other threatening language. 

For picture ideas with the guardsmen, watch Mr. Bean below.

I want to know…What’s the most outlandish uniform you’ve ever seen?  Post a picture or link to one in the comments section, and thank you everybody for reading!

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