As Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history, we bring you nine historical facts about her official London residence…
1) The palace first originated as Buckingham House, which was built by John Sheffield, 3rd Earl of Mulgrave and Marquess of Normandy, as his London residence in 1703. In the same year, Sheffield was made the Duke of Buckingham and he consequently named the house after his title.
2) George III decided to purchase Buckingham House for his wife, Queen Charlotte, in 1761 so to create a comfortable family home near to St James’s Palace. As a result, 14 of George and Charlotte’s 15 children were born at the house.
3) Buckingham Palace was built on a site where James I planted a mulberry garden in order to cultivate silkworms. However, it seems the king used the wrong type of mulberry bush and was unable to successfully produce any silk.
4) Buckingham House was renovated into a palace in the 1820s after George IV commissioned architect John Nash. However, it was Queen Victoria who was the first British monarch to use the palace as their official residence when she moved there in 1837. Since then the palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns, and today it is the administrative headquarters of the monarch.
Buckingham Palace was referred to as The Queen’s Palace during George III’s reign. (Credit: Guildhall Library & Art Gallery/Heritage images/Getty Images)
5) We are today familiar with members of the royal family waving to crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. However, it was only in 1851, during the opening of the Great Exhibition – an international exhibition organised by Prince Albert – that Queen Victoria made the first ever public appearance on the balcony. It was in the 20th century that George VI brought in the tradition of commemorating the end of the Trooping the Colour celebrations, which marks the monarch’s annual birthday parade, with a RAF fly-past.
6) Holding an impressive 775 rooms, Buckingam Palace boasts 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 19 state rooms and 78 bathrooms. There are also 760 windows and 1,514 doors.
7) Edward VII (1841–1910) is the only monarch in the palace’s history to have both been born and died there. William IV was also born there, and our current queen, Elizabeth II, gave birth to the Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew at the palace.
8) Buckingham Palace was at the centre of the suffragette campaign in 1914 when a group of women attempted to breach the palace’s gates in order to present their ‘Votes for Women’ petition. Two suffragettes also chained themselves to the railings of the palace.
9) Buckingham Palace’s music room has, over the years, been used for royal christenings. The Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, the Duke of York and Prince William have all been christened there by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Facts sourced from www.royal.gov.uk