In 1837, Queen Victoria came to the throne, and Buckingham Palace had remained empty for nearly 20 years. Her uncle King George IV had spent vast amounts on it, but he had died leaving it unfinished. King William IV had no interest in taking on the project and almost gave the palace away.
Although Queen Victoria must have finally felt free when she moved into her Palace, it was quite in need of modernisation. Between 1840 and 1861, Victoria and her husband Prince Albert set about transforming the Palace, including adding the facade and the balcony that are so recognisable today. She loved living there with its “high, pleasant and cheerful” interiors. In 1838, her coronation procession departed from Bucking Palace for Westminster Abbey. As her family grew, the Palace was adapted around the needs of their children.
After the death of Prince Albert, Victoria found it difficult to return to the Palace. However, by the end of her life, Buckingham Palace was once more the centre of sovereignty, and after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, it patiently awaited its new residents.
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to the public every year in the summer months, and this year’s exhibition is appropriately named “Queen Victoria’s Palace.” After being provided with an audio guide – which has a word of welcome from the Prince of Wales – you are led through the amazing staterooms. The audioguide includes extra options for the exhibition all throughout the staterooms. I especially enjoyed the throne designed for Queen Victoria and her clothing that was on display. The Pepper’s Ghost technique for the ballroom was fun as well. It was also amazing to see the painting of Queen Victoria’s coronation and her wedding to Prince Albert in real-life.
If you are ever in London during the summer months, you simply cannot miss the opening of the staterooms. Do get tickets in advance because it can get quite busy! The current opening and the exhibition of Queen Victoria’s Palace will be until 29 September 2019. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, which can also be bought online (US & UK).