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article imageA Home Fit For a Queen

By KJ Mullins     Jul 15, 2007 in Travel
Buckingham Palace has been the home of the monarchy since 1703. It is a tourist staple when visiting London but for the British people it is the place they gather in times of celebration and of national sorrow.
The home of Queen Elizabeth and her family was originally called Buckingham House as it was just a large townhouse in 1703. It had been built to house the Duke of Buckingham but in 1762 it was acquired by King George III to be his private residence known as the Queen's House.
For the next 75 years architects John Nash and Edward Blore expanded the residence to include three wings and a courtyard.
In 1837 it became the official home of the monarchs. Queen Victoria was the first to call Buckingham Palace home after it became the royal palace.
The palace has the largest gardens in London. An artificial lake was added to the grounds in 1828. It is feed by the Serpentine from Hyde Park.
The State Rooms form the core of the business section of the palace. Queen Elizabeth and members of the royal family use the banquets and formal areas often. More than 50,000 people are guests to the palace for any number of banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the royal garden parties that are held.
The land that the palace is on was once called Cow Ford. During the Middle Ages the land was owned by various hands but was finally given to Westminster Abbey by King William the Conqueror.
In 1531 Henry VIII acquired the land back from Westminster Abbey. It was the first time in nearly 500 years that the royals had control of the land. In the 17th century James I needed money and sold the land but kept a four-acre mulberry garden for the production of silk.
The first house erected on the land belong to Sir William Blake around 1624. Lord Goring bought the home in 1633 and also began the Goring Great Garden. That garden is the base for today's gardens at the palace.
Today the palace contains 77,000 square metres of floorspace. The Music Room is the centre space of the State Rooms. The Blue and White Drawing Rooms flank the Music Room. The hallway is also the Picture Gallery. The aisle is top lighted to illuminate the many works of art, including those of Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens, and Vermeer. One of the rooms leading off of the hall is the Throne Room.
Under the State Apartments are the semi-state apartments. These rooms are for more informal affairs. At the centre of these rooms is the Bow Room, which leads out to the Gardens. This is the route of guests invited to attend the Queen's Garden Parties.
The Queen resides in a smaller suite of rooms in the North wing.
Ceremonies that take place at Buckingham include Knighting. When Queen Elizabeth recently knighted Sir Rushdie it took place in the Victorian Ballroom built in 1854. In this room those who will receive awards approach the Queen on her throne.
State banquets also take place in the Victorian Ballroom. The first night that a visiting head of State comes to the palace is reserved for such a banquet.
The largest yearly event at the palace is the Queen's Garden Parties for up to 8,000 invitees. The Queen enters these affairs from the Bow Room and walks to her Tea Tent where others can admire her.
While the royal family resides at the palace they do not own it. Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace and their art collections belong to the nation. The Queen's Gallery is open all year for the public to view the ever changing art works on display.
More about London, Buckingham palace, British monarch
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