To be deadly honest about it, I haven’t got a whit of interest in the current British royalty. My interest lies more with the days medieval, and a bit into the Renaissance. Still, Lars is a very big Viking, so when he expressed a desire to see Buckingham Palace on our London trip in June of 2006, I caved rather quickly.
Now, you are not going to a get a grand tour of the Palace interior from me. The problem is that the actual Palace is only open to tourists for approximately 8 weeks out of the year (26 July – 24 September.) We were about a month early. Still, there were a few cool things to see and do here in June.
One of the things we got to do is tour The Mews, which is a cute word for the old royal stables. While we were shelling out our £6.50 each to get in, I quipped that we would probably be treated to signs such as Prince William’s royal pony crapped here back in such-n-such a date. I wasn’t far off…
First, after paying your money you get treated to the Royal Search. Oh yes. Just like getting on an airplane in the USA: Shoes offfff! Containers on the x-ray belt PLEASE! Step through the arch THERE, thank you! Umm ma’am? Might you explain a bit as to what that shape there in your bag could possibly be…?
Why yes, good sir, tis a hair clip. Wickedly shaped, I admit, but does the job of umm the clipping of hair back quite admirably… shall I demonstrate on that horse over there…?
Umm no. No. That won’t be necessary. Please do not molest the Royal Horses…
So, I resisted the urge to molest all 4 of the Royal Carriage Pullers on display. Magnificent beasts, they were… Cleveland Bays and Windsor Greys… with their butts out and faces into the stall wall so they won’t have to be bothered with staring at silly tourists all day, I presume.
Then you get to see about 5 of the State Coaches. These are the carriages, which are horse-drawn and used during various ceremonies by visiting royalty. The two I liked best were the Wedding Coach and the Scottish State Coach. Very nice, those. Very elaborate carving on these, with the most wonderfully plush interiors. Ooooh. Ahhhh.
Lars became utterly besotted by the Rolls Royce housed in the next little room. When I saw him glancing surreptitiously around I figured it best to drag him back out of there. He has such a thing for cars.
After our near-miss at being tossed into the Royal Dungeons for grand theft auto, I realized I was on the verge of pinka-ing mina Royal byxor (that happens a lot with me.) Luckily, we happened upon the Royal public restrooms just then. Wow, hot damn, and JC on a pogo stick! This was just about the most beautiful bathrooms I had ever laid eyes on. For reals. Spit-polished shiny and elaborately decorated. I had to resist the urge to take up residence.
After failing to get Lars to go in and snap a photo of the water closet, we then went in to the actual Royal Stable itself. Empty. With plaquards in front of the stalls saying such things as Prince William’s Royal Pony crapped here back in such-n-such a date. Am I good or what?
From there we entered the room with the mother of all Royal Coaches. My gawd. Hand-carved and huge, this was. Very intricate in design. Impressive. I could personally do without all that gold color, but man… this thing took forever to make and it is easy to see why. This is called the Gold State Coach: which was last used during The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 to carry Her Majesty and Prince Philip to the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. ~ http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/default.asp?action=article&ID=31
And that was it for the Mews.
We wandered through the gift shop here and picked up a nice padded eyeglass case for my purse at £6, a bookmark for £2, and the obligatory hatpin which I promptly put on my Tourist Crap purse. If you are the of the rich sort, you can even get full sets of the Royal China here for outrageous amounts, sold as individual pieces.
We then walked around to the front of the Palace where the Changing of the Guard had just begun. The area there outside the gates was just jam-packed with tourists pushing against each other trying to see the event. It was utter mayhem, I tell you. I could not see a damn thing over all those heads, being so short, but Lars could see it all just fine, towering as he does above mere mortals. But, since this was on MY birthday, I grabbed his arm and off we went. You see, the areas at the actual gates leading into the Palace proper are kept free of gawking tourists, so as you walk around the circle drive, you can see in to the happenings… but you have to look really fast onna counta all those guards standing there repeating Move along! keep clear! They manage to sound both bored and menacing at the same time.
There is a huge fountain in the middle of that circular drive with stone carvings of various Greek Gods and what have you. This is a very nice place to grab a seat to rest during normal adventuring, and a very nice view of the Changing thingy if you get there earlier enough to grab a spot.
St. James Park abuts Buckingham Palace, so we opted to exit via a stroll through that rather than wandering down the The Mall to Trafalgar Square. That is a lovely park with lots of wildlife, in case you’re interested in such things.
Also, for those folks interested in the Royal Jewels, there is a bit open there by the Mews where you can view the current Queen’s collection for a small fee. We declined as I had lots of shopping to get to.
So. While Buckingham Palace is a site to see, it did not thrill me the way other places in London did, and the Palace itself is open to the public for such a short time each year… so I’m going to have to give them a mere 3 stars. If you are more enthralled with current Royalty, you will enjoy a trip here more than I did though… so yes, recommended.