My son Augustine requested two activities during our two days in London: visit Buckingham Palace and the British Museum. We did both in a single half-day. This post will highlight the logistics of touring Buckingham Palace with a family.
Touring Buckingham Palace – Our Experience
Buckingham Palace is open to tours 10 weeks each summer; this year from Friday, 14 July to Sunday, 24 September 2023 (it is open occasionally in the winter and spring for guided tours). Tickets range from £16.50 to £33.00 each (children under five are free):
Families can save £25.00 by booking online in advance (at least one adult and two children booked together). Just tabulate the total based upon the chart above and deduct £25.00.
We showed up at the Visitor’s Entrance on the south side of the property (we took the Underground to Green Park and walked to the palace) at the queue time indicated on our ticket and were ushered right in. If you are a little early, you will have to wait (and if you are late, you may be turned away, though we saw some people allowed in despite being 25 minutes late). This is also where you can buy same-day tickets, subject to availability.
Once inside, you must first pass through an airport-style security checkpoint and then pick up an audio guide. Items like umbrellas or large bags are taken here with instructions to pick them up as you exit to the garden.
Photography is not allowed inside and I did not try to sneak any pictures. The palace offers a superb collection of artwork and brightly-colored rooms that seem to have inspired similar designs and styles in the US White House. You will visit:
- White Drawing Room
- Throne Room
- Music Room
- Picture Gallery
(Pictures and virtual tour here, if interested)
The palace gardens were carefully cultivated during the reign of King George VI and serve as the venue for Palace Garden parties each year meant to honor “ordinary” citizens who contribute to society. You can visit these as well by adding on a garden tour for about £12.00 for adults.
On the way out, you can convert your ticket into a one-year pass, by classifying it as a donation (that apparently carries some tax benefits for the Royal Trust). There’s an area via the garden near the exit where you can stamp the ticket. Then just present the ticket upon your return for complimentary entrance.
I appreciated the audio tour and artwork and very much appreciated the special coronation exhibit in the ballroom which had elements of the coronation including the attire worn by the King and Queen and the embroidered screen behind which Charles was anointed.
While I was a bit worried about how the kids would do, they actually did just fine and my son very much enjoyed the visit.
This is part of my summer to Europe trip report.