For the first time, Buckingham Palace’s East Wing and Balmoral Castle’s interior rooms are open to visitors during the summer

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By Jak

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The British royal family is letting people visit Buckingham Palace's East Wing and some areas of Balmoral Castle during the summer. They're giving guided tours for the first time.

The British monarchy made an exciting announcement this Wednesday. They’ve decided to open up previously restricted areas in two of their most renowned palaces, including Buckingham Palace’s East Wing. This portion of the palace holds the famous balcony where the royal family often appears during significant events. Now, visitors will have the opportunity to explore this historic space firsthand.

Starting from mid-July and extending through August, public guided tours of Buckingham Palace’s East Wing will be offered for the very first time. It’s a unique chance to step into the world of royalty and experience the grandeur of this iconic building up close. You’ll get to wander through the elegant halls and rooms, imagining the historic moments that have taken place within these walls.

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Buckingham Palace's East Wing and Balmoral Castle's interior rooms are open to visitors

This exciting decision to open up Buckingham Palace’s East Wing comes after more than five years of extensive improvement work. The Royal Collection Trust, responsible for the preservation and display of the royal collection, has ensured that every detail is taken care of to offer visitors a truly memorable experience.

One department within the Royal Household is responsible for overseeing the public opening of King Charles III’s official residences. Among these residences is Buckingham Palace, where the East Wing holds significance. This section of the palace includes the front facade and is notable for its central balcony. Since 1851, this balcony has been the focal point for public appearances by monarchs and other members of the royal family during special events and historic occasions.

Before, the tours mainly focused on exploring the grounds and gardens, with access to the castle restricted to only the ballroom. However, starting from the beginning of July until August 4, visitors will have the opportunity to join guided tours that delve into “several of the beautiful rooms” inside the castle, as mentioned on the castle’s website this Wednesday. During these tours, guests will discover the origins of the castle and learn about its significance to generations of the royal family.

king Charles iii

Tickets for the tours are available at two price points: £100 or £150, the latter including afternoon tea. However, there are only 40 tickets available per day, so they’re expected to sell out quickly. The tours conclude in early August, just as King Charles III and Queen Camilla usually arrive for their summer break at the estate.

Recently, King Charles III made a significant public appearance at an Easter service in Windsor Castle, which is situated west of London. This appearance was particularly notable as it came after he disclosed his cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

In February, the palace announced that King Charles III would be temporarily halting all public engagements while undergoing treatment for an unspecified type of cancer. This cancer was discovered after he underwent surgery for a benign prostate condition.

Who Built The East Wing Of Buckingham Palace?

When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace just days after her uncle William IV passed away, it was the first time the palace had been used as the main home for a monarch. The palace had been empty for seven years after the death of Victoria’s uncle, George IV. George had spent a lot of money turning Buckingham House into a palace with the help of architect John Nash. However, George never actually lived in the palace, and his successor, William IV, preferred living at Clarence House in London during his short reign.

The Principal Corridor today. Credit to Royal Collection Trust Photographer: Peter Smith

Although Queen Victoria’s ministers suggested she stay at Kensington Palace, her childhood home, until Buckingham Palace could be made suitable, Victoria wanted to move in right away and start her new life there.

To accommodate Victoria’s growing family, architect Edward Blore was hired to make alterations to Buckingham Palace. Between 1847 and 1849, the East Wing was added to the front, enclosing what used to be an open, horseshoe-shaped courtyard and adding the famous central balcony.

Prince Albert’s suggestion to include a balcony in the front of the Palace proved to be one of the most significant additions. It allowed the Royal Family to engage with the public, making themselves visible and accessible.

The financing of the East Wing’s construction was made possible through the sale of George IV’s seaside retreat in Brighton, known as the Royal Pavilion, in 1850. This retreat, characterized by its unique architecture and interiors reflecting the King’s passion for Asian art and design, was sold along with its contents, including exquisite ceramics and furniture from the Royal Collection. These items were then transferred to the Wing, inspiring the Chinese-themed décor of its main rooms.

How to book Tickets to visit Buckingham Palace’s East Wing?

How to book Tickets to visit Buckingham Palace's East Wing
The East Wing Highlights Tours will be available for purchase starting on Tuesday, April 9th. Royal Collection Trust email subscribers will have priority access for 24 hours before the remaining tickets are released for general sale on Wednesday, April 10th (via a booking link on this page). To ensure priority access, subscribe to our email updates before Tuesday, April 9th.

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