British Queen celebrates


For the first time, visitors to Buckingham Palace will get an inside view of the east wing, following a meticulous five-year renovation. Although guests won't step onto the iconic balcony itself,

they will experience a unique perspective from within.

The renovated east wing, opening to paying visitors next week on a trial basis, unveils an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at royal life. Through the windows, famously adorned with what royal author Robert Hardman calls "the most famous net curtains in the world," visitors can gaze out at the bustling crowds below, seeing faces up close that are normally glimpsed from afar.

The experience offers a fresh viewpoint, looking out over the pink gravel courtyard towards the Mall, a departure from the typical outside-in perspective seen by tourists at the palace gates. To access the balcony, royals pass through the elaborately decorated Centre Room, now open to the public for the first time in its 175-year history. The room showcases intricate Chinese-style decor, including a striking lily-themed lamp fixture and walls adorned with art reflecting Eastern influences.

The east wing's historical ties to Asian aesthetics are rooted in Queen Victoria's sale of the Brighton Pavilion, funding the construction of Buckingham Palace's extension. This infusion of Chinese and Japanese art and furnishings from Brighton into Buckingham Palace underscores its rich historical tapestry.

As part of a broader effort to increase public access to royal residences, the east wing tour represents a step towards a more interactive visitor experience. Despite its £75 cost, tours for this year are already sold out, reflecting public interest in exploring these previously private quarters.

This intimate tour setting allows visitors to freely explore without barriers, offering a glimpse into the palace's living history rather than a static museum experience. Yet, amidst its grandeur and historical significance, the palace also serves as an office and a prominent tourist attraction, though it remains distinct from where current royals reside or visit.

Ongoing renovations across the palace complex, totaling £369 million, are aimed at modernizing its infrastructure while preserving its heritage. Despite the scaffolding and ongoing restoration visible beyond the state rooms, the east wing tour promises a blend of historical insight and royal splendor.

Visitors can now stand in the opulent Yellow Drawing Room, previously used for royal audiences and notable broadcasts, or peer out over the quadrangle where recent political events unfolded. Beyond the allure of royal artifacts, it's the opportunity to glimpse the palace's operational side that captivates visitors, offering a rare behind-the-scenes perspective on one of the world's most iconic landmarks. Photo by Colin Smith, Wikimedia commons.