After leaving Westminster Abbey, Julianna, Baba, and I walked a few blocks to St. James Park which is in front of Buckingham Palace. The whole park was beautiful; it was hard to believe it was in the middle of London. There were so many different types of birds and flowers. The trees towered high above, and it was all so green compared to home. Fall was starting to show its colours, and there were leaves on the ground. There were fountains in the ponds, and it was like an oasis to the hustle and bustle of the big city.
While waiting for our 1:30pm reservation at Buckingham Palace, we ate New York style hot dogs from a vendor in the park. They hit the spot after our busy morning. It was so nice just to sit and observe the park for a while. I could have stayed there forever, but as always there were more things to see. We walked up alongside the Mall (a road in Westminster that leads up to Buckingham Palace on one end and Trafalgar Square on the other), approaching the Palace.
The circle in front of it had gold embellished fences and there was black wrought iron gates on either side, encompassing everything. We saw the Queen’s Guard marching ceremoniously in the Forecourt. There was one great statue in the center with an angel perched atop; it was Queen Victoria’s memorial. The pavement was a royal red. Unfortunately, we missed the Changing of the Guard at 11am, something I will need to come back for.
The visitor’s entrance was around the side of the Palace at the Ambassadors Entrance; they let us in with our passes, and after going through security and stowing away our cameras we made it inside. It was the Queen’s longest reign day. We were there during the moment of history that the Queen became the longest reigning monarch to date, surpassing Queen Victoria. We were let out into the Quadrangle (the outside square in the center of the palace) and walked around viewing a commemoration to the Queen’s long and prosperous reign.
Entering back in through the Grand Entrance, we began to get a look at the Royal Collection. Everything that has been acquired by the monarchy through the generations, like pieces of art and furniture, are being held here by the Royal family for future generations to enjoy in their intended atmosphere. The Marble Hall was the first thing we saw inside the Palace, and like the name suggests, was pretty much entirely marble. There were marble statues and busts, and marble columns and floors. Walking up the Grand Staircase, it is not difficult to feel like a royal. The gold detailing on the wall and the red carpet that line the steps really takes it to that level. Gigantic portraits of Queen Victoria’s family line the walls.
Passing through the Guard Chamber with its big mahogany doors, we came into the Green Drawing Room, which was one of my favourites. It had a Victorian ambiance, with beautifully well-kept antique furniture. The green and gold silk curtains and upholstery complimented the rooms name wonderfully. The next room over was the Throne room with two royal seats at the head, and the most wonderful crystal chandeliers. The room was carpeted red and had red wallpaper. A room truly fit for a Queen (or King).
The Picture Gallery was next, housing some very famous paintings; our audio guide talked about a few highlights. There were a more rooms with art, and one room that was very informative on the ways that dinners were prepared for Royal Banquets, before we entered the Ballroom. The rows of seating were perfectly placed according to the proper etiquette of things and there were the loveliest centerpieces to compliment the table setting. On one end of the room was a giant gold organ.
The State Dining Room was also covered with red, but featured an ornate ceiling. The Blue Drawing Room was pretty similar, but like the Green Drawing Room had upholstery to match the name. The music room was round on one end which had windows with the best view of the Garden outback. The White Drawing Room was mostly, you guessed it, white with gold accents. I believe this was the room with a secret. One of its tables and mirrors opened to expose a secret escape route for those wanting to be stealthy. It was a room straight out of a movie scene.
We walked down another set of stairs and out into the Garden via the Bow Room, where visiting diplomats wait for an audience with the Queen. In the Garden, a film crew was set up doing a piece on the Queen’s longest reign day. The lawn was once again immaculate (must be all the rain that keeps their grass so green) and it was a nice day for a stroll. The visitors shop was out here in a tent filled with many royal souvenirs. From here, we had an excellent view of the Palace as we said our goodbyes. Off on another adventure we went…