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Monthly Archives: November 2011

40 Facts About Buckingham Palace

1. Buckingham Palace is The Queen’s official London residence, but St. James’s Palace is the ceremonial Royal residence. Even today foreign ambassadors are formally accredited to ‘the Court of St. James’s’.

2. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

3. Vital statistics: Buckingham Palace is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the quadrangle) and 24 metres high. The total floor area of the Palace, from basement to roof, covers over 77,000 square metres.

4. The site where Buckingham Palace now stands was originally a mulberry garden planted by King James I (r. 1603-25) to rear silkworms. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong kind of mulberry bush, and silk production never took off in Britain.

5. Buckingham Palace gets its name from an eighteenth-century Tory politician. John Sheffield, 3rd Earl of Mulgrave and Marquess of Normanby, was created Duke of Buckingham in 1703. He built Buckingham House for himself as a grand London home.

6. In 1761, George III bought Buckingham House for his wife, Queen Charlotte, to use as a comfortable family home close to St James’s Palace. Buckingham House became known as the Queen’s House, and 14 of George III’s 15 children were born there.

7. Buckingham House was transformed into Buckingham Palace in the 1820s by the architect John Nash for George IV. But the first monarch to use Buckingham Palace as their official residence was Queen Victoria, who moved there in 1837. The previous monarch – William IV – had preferred to live at Clarence House and to use St. James’s Palace for State functions.

8. Buckingham Palace is an office for the Head of State, as well as a home for The Queen. Today over 800 members of staff are based at Buckingham Palace. Their jobs range from housekeeping to horticulture, catering to correspondence. Some of the more unusual jobs include fendersmith, clockmaker and flagman.

9. The forecourt of Buckingham Palace, where Changing the Guard takes place, was not created until 1911, when it was added as part of a scheme to commemorate Queen Victoria. The gates and railings were also completed in 1911.

10. The Palace gained its familiar white Portland stone facade in 1913, because the original soft French stone had decayed due to pollution. Architect Sir Aston Webb created the new design. People at the time were surprised by the transformation of the front from grimy black to gleaming white.

11. The balcony of Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous in the world. The first recorded Royal balcony appearance took place in 1851, when Queen Victoria stepped onto it during celebrations for the opening of the Great Exhibition. It was King George VI who introduced the custom of the RAF fly-past at the end of Trooping the Colour, when the Royal Family appear on the balcony.

12. The east side of the Palace (today’s front wing) was the last to be built. Queen Victoria had it added in the 1840s to provide extra space for her growing family. The new wing meant that the monument known as Marble Arch, originally at the entrance to Buckingham Palace, had to be moved to its present site near Speaker’s Corner in 1851.

13. Buckingham Palace provided an unlikely operating theatre for King Edward VII in 1902. Suffering from peritonitis and close to death, he was operated on in a room overlooking the garden. The surgery proved a success, and King Edward VII was crowned at Westminster Abbey in August that year.

14. There are 1,514 doors and 760 windows in Buckingham Palace. All windows are cleaned every six weeks to keep them clean.

15. Electricity was first installed in the Ball Room of Buckingham Palace in 1883, and between 1883 and 1887 electricity was extended throughout the Palace. Today there are over 40,000 light bulbs in the Palace.

16. Some rooms at Buckingham Palace have a Chinese theme. That is because they feature furniture and décor which were originally based in the Prince Regent’s oriental-style Royal Pavilion at Brighton (later sold by Queen Victoria to fund building work at Buckingham Palace).

17. Buckingham Palace’s garden covers 40 acres, and includes a helicopter landing area, a lake, and a tennis court. It is home to 30 different species of bird and more than 350 different wild flowers, some extremely rare. As well as being the venue for summer garden parties, it has been the setting for a charity tennis competition (2000), pop and classical music concerts (2002) and a children’s party featuring a host of characters from children’s books (2006).

18. The only monarch to be born and die at Buckingham Palace was Edward VII (born 1841, died 1910). William IV was also born at Buckingham House. The Queen gave birth to Prince Charles and Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace. Notice of Royal births and deaths is attached to the railings at Buckingham Palace for members of the public to read. This custom is still followed – even in the age of mass media, when Royal births and deaths are also announced on the Royal web site.

19. In 1914 suffragettes seeking votes for women took their campaign to Buckingham Palace. Two women chained themselves to the Palace railings, whilst others attempted to storm the Palace to deliver their ‘Votes for Women’ petition.

20. During the Second World War, Buckingham Palace suffered nine direct bomb hits. On several occasions King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were in the Palace and narrowly escaped being killed. One person did die during the wartime bombing: PC Steve Robertson, a policeman on duty at the Palace, was killed by flying debris on 8 March 1941 when the north side of the Palace was wrecked. A plaque inside the garden commemorates his heroism.

21. Environmental issues are a major concern in the running of Buckingham Palace. A Combined Heat and Power unit (CHP) helps to cut energy consumption; LED lights reduce electricity use; and double-glazed skylights reduce energy loss. In the garden, 99% of green waste is recycled on site.

22. Four Royal babies – The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York and Prince William – were christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace.

23. A flag always flies above Buckingham Palace. When The Queen is in residence, the Royal Standard flies. When the Sovereign is not present, the Union Flag flies instead. A flag serjeant has the role of raising and lowering the right flag as The Queen arrives at or departs from the Palace.

24. Buckingham Palace has its own chapel, post office, swimming pool, staff cafeteria, doctor’s surgery and cinema.

25. Although Buckingham Palace is well known, it still has a postcode: SW1A 1AA. It is the only building to have this postcode although the House of Commons has a similar one – SW1A 0AA.

26. There are more than 350 clocks and watches in Buckingham Palace, one of the largest collections of working clocks anywhere. Two full-time horological conservators wind them up every week and keep them in good working order.

27. Changing the Guard takes place on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30am (on alternate days during autumn and winter). In this ceremony the soldiers who have been on duty at Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace are relieved by the ‘New Guard’. A military band plays music, which ranges from military marches to Abba’s greatest hits. On Royal birthdays the band plays ‘Happy Birthday’.

28. One regular ritual which most tourists do not see is the daily ‘dragging’ of the gravel on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. It is cleaned and combed using mechanical equipment first thing daily – even on Christmas Day. Later in the day two more inspections take place just in case there is any rubbish to clear away. This helps to ensure that the forecourt always looks spick and span.

29. The largest room in the Palace is the Ballroom, where Investitures and State banquets take place today. It is 36.6m long, 18m wide and 13.5m high. It was opened in 1856 with a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War.

30. Crowds often gather around Buckingham Palace for occasions of national celebration. At the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands cheered King George VI and Winston Churchill on the balcony. To mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, over one million people crowded into the area in front of the Palace and down the Mall.

31. The 1st Buckingham Palace Guide Company was formed in 1937 when Princess Elizabeth enrolled as a Girl Guide. The pack included some 20 Guides and fourteen Brownies: children of Royal Household members and Palace employees. They made a summerhouse in the garden their headquarters but, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the Company was closed down.

32. Dress codes at Buckingham Palace have changed greatly over two centuries. In 1924 Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald was the first man to be received by a monarch inside Buckingham Palace wearing a lounge suit, but, this was a one-off. Evening court dress remained obligatory until the Second World War. Today there is no official dress code. Most men invited to Buckingham Palace in the daytime choose to wear service uniform or lounge suits.

33. Visiting heads of state occupy a suite of rooms at the Palace known as the Belgian suite, on the ground floor of the North-facing garden front. These rooms were first decorated for Prince Albert’s uncle Léopold I, first King of the Belgians. King Edward VIII also lived in these rooms during his short reign.

34. Buckingham Palace is not the private property of the Queen as an individual, to dispose of as she wishes. Like Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Buckingham Palace is held by The Queen as Sovereign.

35. John Nash, the architect responsible for remodelling many of today’s Buckingham Palace interiors, also built the Royal Mews, All Soul’s Church Langham Place, Regent Street and Carlton House Terrace, and redesigned the Haymarket Theatre.

36. Hundreds of distinguished historic figures have visited Buckingham Palace since it became the Sovereign’s London residence. They have included a seven-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (when it was still Buckingham House); Felix Mendelssohn; Johann Strauss the Younger; Charles Dickens; Alfred Lord Tennyson; American Presidents including Woodrow Wilson and JF Kennedy; Mahatma Gandhi (who wore a loin cloth and sandals to tea with King George V); first man on the moon Neil Armstrong; actor Laurence Olivier; and Nelson Mandela.

37. Buckingham Palace is not only The Queen’s London home: The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra also have private offices and apartments located within the Palace.

39. More than 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as The Queen’s guests at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties. The Buckingham Palace kitchen is able to serve a sit-down meal to as many as 600 people at a time. Since 1993, the State Rooms of the Palace have also been open to members of the public to visit during August and September, while The Queen is not in residence.

40. The Queen’s regular audiences with the British Prime Minister traditionally take place at Buckingham Palace in The Queen’s Audience Room. During the war, King George VI’s audiences with Winston Churchill were less formal – the two helped themselves to food from a buffet before sitting down to talk in privacy.


Telephone Boxes of London

The Red Telephone Kiosk (telephone box)

The red telephone kiosk was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott at the request of the Post Office in 1924. (Gilbert Scott also designed Waterloo Bridge and Battersea Power Station.)


Modern Telephone Boxes

A K6 design used by one of the new telecoms operators. (Red telephone boxes are owned and run by British Telecon)



Big Ben

Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London,and is generally extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well, It is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It celebrated its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place.The erecting of the tower was completed on 10 April 1858. The clock tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of both London and England, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.



The clock dials are big enough that the Clock Tower was once the largest four-faced clock in the world.

The dial of the Great Clock of Westminster. The hour hand is 2.7 metres (9 ft) long and the minute hand is 4.3 metres (14 ft) long

The clock and dials were designed by Augustus Pugin. The clock dials are set in an iron frame 7 metres (23 ft) in diameter, supporting 312 pieces of opal glass, rather like a stained-glass window. Some of the glass pieces may be removed for inspection of the hands. The surround of the dials is gilded.

the Streets of London


Here are some pictures of what everyday London looks like:




There are also multiple must-see attractions in UK, such as:

1. Palace of Westminster

2. London eye


Queen’s Guards

The Queen’s Guard and Queen’s Life Guard are the names given to contingents of infantry and cavalry soldiers charged with guarding the official royal residences in London. The British Army had regiments of both Horse Guards and Foot Guards predating the English Restoration (1660), and since the reign of King Charles II these have been responsible for guarding the Sovereign’s palaces.

Operating area

The Queen’s Guard and Queen’s Life Guard is mounted at the royal residences that come under the operating area of the British Army’s London District, which is responsible for the administration of the Household Division. This covers Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and the Tower of London, as well as Windsor Castle. The Queen’s Guard is also mounted at the sovereign’s other official residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, but not as regularly as in London. In Edinburgh, the guard is the responsibility of the resident infantry battalion at Redford Barracks. It is not mounted at the Queen’s private residences at Sandringham or Balmoral.

Foot Guards

The guard is usually found from one of the five regiments of foot guards:

When The Queen is in residence, there are four Foot Guards at the front of the building; when she is away there are two. The Queen’s Guard changes in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30 am, and lasts about 45 minutes. There is no Guard Mounting in very wet weather. During the autumn and winter, Guard Mounting takes place on alternate days, but it is held daily during spring and summer. During the month of April 2009, the Changing the Guard will take place at Buckingham Palace on even dates, i.e. 2, 4, 6, and daily at Windsor Castle. From May to July 2009 inclusive, Changing the Guard will take place daily at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. They are wearing full dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins (hats).

Buckingham Palace is immediately adjacent to St James’s Park and The Green Park.

     Horse Guards Arch

The Queen’s Household Cavalry is the mounted guard at the entrance to Horse Guards Arch, which is located east of St James’s Park. Horse Guards Arch is the official main entrance to both St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace.

The Guard Changing Ceremony takes place takes place daily at 11am (10am on Sundays) and lasts about 30 minutes.

The mounted sentries (who change every hour) are on duty each day from 10am until 4pm, at which time there is a dismounted parade of the Guard.

There are two dismounted sentries on duty until the gates are shut at 8pm, when only one sentry is left on guard until 7am when the second sentry returns on duty.


Abbey Road

Abbey Road is a thoroughfare located in the borough of Camden and the City of Westminster in London, running roughly northwest to southeast through St. John’s Wood, near Lord’s Cricket Ground. It is part of the B507.

The north-western end of Abbey Road begins in Kilburn, at the intersection of Quex Road and West End Lane and was named for the nearby Kilburn Priory[1] and its associated Abbey Farm. It continues south-east for roughly a mile, crossing Belsize Road, Boundary Road, and Marlborough Place, ending at the intersection of Grove End Road and Garden Road.

The Abbey National Building Society (later the Abbey) was founded in 1874 as The Abbey Road & St John’s Wood Permanent Benefit Building Society in a Baptist church on Abbey Road.

EMI‘s Abbey Road Studios are located at the south-eastern end, at 3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood. The Beatles and many other famous popular music performers have recorded at this studio, and The Beatles named their final 1969 studio LP Abbey Road. The album’s cover photograph shows the four group members walking across the zebra crossing located just outside the studio entrance. As a result of its association with The Beatles, since 1970 this section of Abbey Road has been featured on the London tourism circuit. In December 2010 the crossing was given Grade II Listed Building status by English Heritage.

The crossing featured on the Beatles cover, as well as the crossing directly north of it, have become popular photo-opportunity areas, despite the road still being a busy thoroughfare for traffic. The iconic Beatles album cover has been parodied many times over the years on the crossing.


The tin street sign on the corner of Grove End Road and Abbey Road is now mounted high on the building on the corner, to save the local council the expense of cleaning and replacing the sign, which was frequently defaced and stolen. The council repaints the wall next to the crossing every three months to cover fans’ graffiti.

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