Top Treasures at Buckingham Palace


Malcolm Hendry, General Manager of the Rubens at the Palace, reveals some of the magnificent treasures you can see on a tour of the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace this summer.


05th July 2010

The Rubens at the Palace
malcolm hendry

Malcolm Hendry

Don’t miss the rare opportunity to visit the magnificent State Rooms of Buckingham Palace , open from the 27 July – 1 October 2010, when Her Majesty is on her annual visit to Scotland.

Expect to be stunned – Buckingham Palace has been used by the British Monarchy to instil shock and awe in subjects and visiting dignitaries alike.  As the heart of the working palace, the State Rooms are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.  These include paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin and Canaletto, sculpture by Canova, exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain and the finest English and French furniture. 

Thousands of visitors each year make their way up the curving marble steps of the Grand Staircase to the State Rooms when attending a Reception or Investiture.  The white walls, red carpets and lavish gilding are an impressive foretaste of what’s to come.

In the spectacular Palace Ballroom you’ll see the traditional horseshoe-shaped table lavishly decorated for a State Banquet, including the silver gilt from the Grand service, first used to celebrate the birthday of George III in 1811, as well as jewelled cups, ivory tankards, chased dishes, sconces, shields and basins.  At 36.6m long, 18m wide and 13.5m high, the Ballroom is the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War.

The Throne Room, sometimes used during Queen Victoria’s reign for Court gatherings and as a second dancing room, is dominated by a proscenium arch supported by a pair of winged figures of ‘victory’ holding garlands above the ‘chairs of state’.  It is in the Throne Room that The Queen, on very special occasions like Jubilees, receives loyal addresses. Another use of the Throne Room has been for formal wedding photographs.

The State Dining Room is one of the principal State Rooms on the West side of the Palace. Many distinguished people have dined in this room including the 24 holders of the Order of Merit as well as presidents and prime ministers.  The red silk damask on the walls makes a fitting background to the state portraits of Kings and Queens from George III to George IV. The regency dining chairs were purchased by the Prince Regent in 1813 for his home at Carlton House.

Buckingham Palace Gates

Buckingham Palace gates

Before the Ballroom was added to the Palace in the 1850s, the first State Ball was held in the Blue Drawing Room in May 1838 as part of the celebrations leading up to Queen Victoria’s Coronation.  Note the thirty fake onyx columns and the Sevres porcelain table which was made for Napoleon.

The Music Room was originally known as the Bow Drawing Room.  Four Royal babies – The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York and Prince William – were all christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Music Room.

The Marble Hall, clad in Italian marble, contains fine sculptures, including three groups by Antonio Canova.

The White Drawing Room. Originally called the North Drawing Room, it is perhaps the grandest of all the State Rooms. The Room also serves as a Royal reception room for The Queen and members of the Royal Family to gather before State and official occasions.  Furnished with French antiques and English cut glass chandeliers suspended from the beautiful ceiling, the delicate colours of the furnishings standing out against the gold walls.

To make the most of this extraordinary experience The Rubens at the Palace, the nearest hotel to the royal residence, is offering a special Royal Day Out Package that includes accommodation and breakfast, tickets to the State Rooms, to the Queen’s Gallery and to the Royal Mews, plus traditional afternoon tea in the Palace Lounge.

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