Thursday, 20 October 2011

The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace opens to the public over the summer months while the Queen is on holiday. This summer Kate's wedding dress was on show and as Charlotte was so thrilled to watch the Royal Wedding on tv and all the excitement that went with it, we left Daddy at home and went with Grandma to see "the dress".
Its wise to book your tickets in advance, either online or over the phone, where you book a time slot for your visit. Ours was just after lunch so to burn off some energy from sitting on the bus we first went to the kids play area in St James Park and watched the soldiers practicing a performance outside The Guards Museum.
We then went to queue for Buckingham Palace, the queue looked really long but it didn't take too long to get to the front. You are put into holding pens and then go through the airport type scanners before picking up your audio tour. It's well thought out with an audio tour for kids, which we all opted for. Only snag, there were no little headphones, and half way around Charlotte did get a little fed up of them always falling off.
The kids commentary was similar to the adult version, but with a little girl and boy talking. Charlotte followed it really well and quickly worked out how to move onto the next section when we moved rooms. She picked up a lot of what they were saying, she now knows what the P stand for on the throne chairs, and that there is a picture of Queen Charlotte. There was a clip of Buckingham Palace on the tv one night and she was telling Daddy where she had stood.
Its fascinating walking round the rooms, and learning what they get used for. Charlotte liked to spot any secret doors (there are a few) and walking up and down the grand staircases. The statues of Victoria and Albert she knew because of the statues we have in Abingdon.
About 3/4 of the way round was Kate's dress, here we could have a sit down to watch a video of how it was made and then to see the dress, shoes and tiara in detail, and amazing it was. You then come out the back of Buckingham Palace, hand in your headsets and walk round part of the gardens.
Charlotte asked a member of staff in there were any corgis, but sadly they all went on holiday with the Queen.
We had an excellent time, it took about 2 hours to go round, a lot of walking for little feet but she did really well. Pushchairs aren't allowed inside so these have to be check-in and collected after, but they say they can loan baby carriers and hip seats. Also toilets and baby change are only at the exit, none at the entrance and aside from restaurants close-by the closest public ones are in the parks or Victoria.
Buckingham Palace will open again in 2012 from 1 August - 30 September with a special exhibition of Diamonds: a Jubilee Celebration

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