The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace

Every summer, between the months of July and September, the gates swing open to the public to have a poke around the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's official London residence. OK, so you go in via a side entrance and not the gates but, regardless, it's a great chance to see another of the Royal Palaces. I visited with my friend, just before I went to Italy, on a rather bleak day.

It may have been grim outside, but inside it was dazzling. Sadly you can't take photos inside the State Rooms so I can't show you the gorgeous things that make the nineteen rooms look resplendent, but I understand why this policy is in place. Obviously lots of people want to see the State Rooms, meaning there are a lot of people inside who are all following the same audio tour.

It got quite crowded at various points as we all tried to get the best view of what the audio guide was telling us. If you add people stopping to take photos every two seconds it would become hideously unpleasant, rather than a bit annoying at times. (In fact, we had that exact unpleasant experience last week at the Vatican Museums, which I'll tell you about another time!)

Don't let this put you off though - I'm often guilty of snapping photos and taking in things through a lens rather than with my own eyes - as it was fascinating to visit the State Rooms. In a nutshell, the State Rooms are the rooms that the Queen and Royal Family use to receive and entertain guests, and these rooms are filled with sparkling chandeliers, treasures, works of art and are, it goes without saying, furnished opulently. Every year there's also a special exhibition; this year's explores royal childhood.

Once you've seen all that you want to see, you exit at the rear of the palace in the gardens. Whilst you can obviously see the gardens from the pathway that leads you to the exit, you're not allowed to go off and explore them. (You can buy a special ticket that gives you a tour of the gardens but this ticket had sold out when we booked).

In my head I've always had a fond memory of Buckingham Palace, despite never been inside, because of Roald Dahl's The BFG. It was lovely to finally be able to see inside some of the Palace and imagine The BFG jumping over the wall with Sophie to try and persuade the Queen to do something about the giants!

As long as you get your ticket stamped, your ticket is valid for a year, though obviously you can only visit between July and September. I'd recommend that you go in August or September so that you have time to go back the following year to see that year's special exhibition.

There's also the opportunity to relax in the café or stock up on a souvenir or two in the shop once you've left the State Rooms. Who could resist a hot chocolate with a crown though, be warned, the price of cakes and sandwiches are on the more expensive side.

Various tickets are available to visit Buckingham Palace, but the tour we went on cost £19.75 each, plus a £1.25 fee. Tickets are sold out for the 2014 garden tour and evening tour, but there's also a "Royal Day Out" option - all ticket information can be found here. x

PS: September 28th is the last day you can visit Buckingham Palace so you'll have to go sooner rather than later if you want to have a poke around this year!

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