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Buckingham Palace — Exclusive Evening Tour

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Buckingham Palace Exclusive Evening Tour
Where? Buckingham Palace, The Mall When? 5th November 2022 to 26th February 2023 5.30 PM or 5.45 PM (Mon, Thu-Sun) Running time? 2-2½ hours Tickets? £90 See rct.uk Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 11, 211, C1, C10 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is St. James’s Park Circle District Other nearby stations: Green Park Train fares

Craig’s review… This is a lot of money to spend on a tour so hopefully the King will be leading us around himself. If we end up with Prince Edward then I'll be asking for a refund.

I've been inside the palace plenty of times during the day so I already know what it's going to look like, but the big difference with the evening tour is that you get led around by an actual human being instead of listening to some headphones. So there's about thirty of us all waiting patiently for the guide to arrive at the moment, and when she finally materialises she turns out to be a very friendly grandma who explains that the route is going to be a little bit different today because there's some maintenance work going on inside the palace, so we're going to see a bit of the Chapel and have our glass of bubbly in a different room. Then she orders us out of our seats (quite literally -- she has suddenly turned into a headmistress!) and frog-marches us through a few of the State Rooms at supersonic speed, before stopping in the Ballroom where they hold all of the State Banquets and investitures.

Ballroom and State Rooms

I've seen this room plenty of times during the daytime but this is the first time that I've ever seen it empty. They usually hold a big exhibition in here that takes up all the space but it's just our little group and the guide today, and for the next twenty minutes she rattles through the history of the palace and its inhabitants. It's basically like a school lesson, with the teacher standing at the front waving her arms about, whilst all of us kids try and sit without fidgeting. If you have a genuine interest in the Royals then twenty minutes about the Duke of Buckingham and Queen Victoria will fly by. She does a little Q&A session at the end as well. Then she orders us out of our seats again (Up! Up! Let's go!) and begins to lead us through the State rooms one by one.

The tour is a lot more fun when Buckingham Palace is empty. You can really appreciate the vastness of the rooms when there's nobody around because you're usually crammed in with a hundred other people all milling around, but we're all alone with the guide tonight, walking the corridors as if we own the place. It's very dimly lit as well, with warm yellow lamplights bringing out the velvet reds and golds. It sure does look pretty in the low light.

After the Ballroom comes the State Dining Room, the Blue Drawing Room, the Music Room and White Drawing Room. The guide carries on talking all the way through the walk, pointing out the various pieces of furniture and artworks on the walls, working in some of the monarch's family history, because it's pretty much all portraits of long-dead kings and queens.

Throne Room and Picture Gallery

Then comes the Throne Room, Green Drawing Room and Picture Gallery. And after that comes the bit that everybody has been waiting for: bubbly time in the East Gallery (booze time). They've set up a couple of tables with champagne glasses on (apple juice and water as well, if that is your fancy), and waiters and waitresses are waltzing around with silver trays. I would happily have swapped the champagne for a sit down on a seat but nobody's allowed to sit on the expensive furniture, so everybody's hovering around everyone else and chatting like it's date night. I've got no small talk whatsoever, so I just mill around like an idiot for twenty minutes looking at the art.

After that there's one final treat to come... instead of exiting out of the back of the gardens like you usually do, you get escorted across the interior courtyard and straight out of the front gate. They lead you across the parade ground where Changing the Guard takes place and send you out of the main gate where all the tourists gather to snap pictures of the soldiers. One of them even mistook me for Prince William and screamed and tried to kiss me (that's not true).

So was it worth the money? Well, duh. Of course it was. If I had to choose between an Evening Tour and the Summer Opening then it's no contest: the Evening Tour would win every time.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy Buckingham Palace then you might like to visit Clarence House (you can walk it in 6 mins), Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace (catch a tube from St James’s Park to Queensway), Royal Mews (you can walk it in 4 mins) and Windsor Castle. If you enjoy this evening tour of Buckingham Palace then you might like to try a Twilight Tour at the Tower of London, or a Ghost Tour at Hampton Court

London Squire bookThe owns londondrum.com and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

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Your comments and questions

Paul I hope this doesn't sound to obvious, but as my wife and I will be in London sightseeing and we don't generally do this in our Sunday best, is it acceptable to be wearing jeans?

Craig Hi Paul. I wore jeans and trainers when I went and it was fine, but there were certainly some very smartly-dressed people there. It was mainly for the older crowd, but there were lots of tourists too, so you won't feel out of place.

Sarah Hi - is the guided tour of the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace a yearly event in December to January, or is this a special occasion just for this year?

Craig Hi Sarah. It's usually every year. They put on the self-guided tours during the summer when the monarch is at Balmoral, and the guided tours during the autumn or winter when they're at Sandringham

Matty I have also been to the day and evening tours and I wholeheartedly recommend the Evening Tour. Yes it is very expensive, but what a treat to be able to walk around the palace in peace when you can really appreciate all the treasures from the Royal Collection. I definitely recommend it 100%!

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