Having just returned from the Buckingham Palace State Rooms and Garden Highlight tour, which sold out within an hour of tickets being released, our event coordinator Jessica Harris-Edwards tells us all about what the lucky members got up to.
Upon arriving outside the State Room gates, members were ushered through the palace’s security checks before being given their audio guides for the State Rooms. These comprehensive guides contained information on each of the 19 rooms we passed through, including special commentary by Prince Charles on the collection currently on show at the palace in honour of his 70th birthday.
Some of the groups favourite pieces included the Grand Staircase, created by architect John Nash as part of his commission to remodel the palace for King George IV in the early 19th century. They feature intricate patterns of acanthus, oak, and laurel leaves and is considered one of the world’s finest bronze casting work. Another was the Throne Room, which makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into Kate and William’s wedding photos, and in the Ball Supper Room the awe-inspiring pavilion, making you feel like you’ve stepped through a portal into Ancient Persia.
The most spectacular feature however was the art collection. Every monarch has added his or her own touches to the collection and it really shows as you meander your way through the tour.
Once we exited the State Rooms, the group relaxed in the Garden Café, sipping on tea and eating strawberries, as we awaited the Garden Highlights Tour.
We stepped through the roped off area, where we were greeted by our guide and looked upon with envy by the other palace visitors, before being ushered off down the pathways that Queen Victoria described in our journal as ‘delicious’.
The 39-acre garden is looked after by just eight gardeners and an intern who rotates every year, but the immaculate state of the gardens would make you think there were 100 of them. As with the State Rooms, in the garden is was apparent each monarch had had their say on how they wanted things to be laid out. We passed entwined trees and the lake populated with islands to encourage wildlife, which was installed by Queen Victoria and her beloved Albert, ornate vases that depicted Napoleon's victories and bought by George IV to gloat, to the Rose Garden, a recent installation by Queen Elizabeth including a new rose that was named by Her Majesty.
The whole morning was a wonderful experience and much more than many guests expected from a standard tour of the palace – you really do see the heart of the palace on this tour.
If you would like to see the State Rooms, we are running another tour in September, though this will not include a private tour of the garden. Tickets are nearly sold out through the Royal Trust website, so this is your last chance this summer to have a royal outing to Buckingham Palace.