As Buckingham Palace prepares to welcome the swathes of tourists for the annual summer opening, visitors will for the first time be able to enter through the Grand Entrance.
Previously, the entrance had been reserved for visiting Heads of State but the Palace will throw open the doors for ‘A Royal Welcome’ – this year’s summer opening exhibition.
Visitors will be gain a insight of the action behind the scenes at the 775-room royal residence, including the preparations for hosting State Banquets, Investitures, Garden Parties and private audiences.
Each year, Buckingham Palace hosts an average of 62,000 guests during the various events and engagements and the new exhibition is designed to show visitors how The Royal Household provides world-class hospitality on every occasion.
Running from the 25 July – 27 September, the exhibition will see the Palace’s Ballroom set for a State Banquet and visitors will be able to marvel at the magnificent centrepieces and the priceless china, all of which span back hundreds of years.
The Ballroom is the largest multi-purpose room in Buckingham Palace and was opened in 1856 by Queen Victoria. Naturally, with its namesake, it held a ball to celebrate the end of the Crimean War.
The table, which is usually set in a rectangular ‘horseshoe’ fashion, will feature 170 place settings and 2,000 pieces of cutlery altogether. The Grand Service, which was originally commissioned by George IV when he was Prince Regent, will be on display this summer and the set has been used by successive monarchs for over 200 years.
The Service consists of 12 ice-pails, 14 soup tureens, 118 salt cellars, 140 dishes, 288 dinner plates, 58 dessert stands and silver gilt centrepieces, and 107 candelabra.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh generally host two incoming State Visits each year. 2014 saw The President of Ireland make a historic visit to the UK in May and in October, The President of the Republic of Singapore made an inbound visit.
2015 has already seen The President of the United Mexican States witness Royal hospitality earlier this month.
At each State Banquet, a special salt cellar – originally acquired by George I – is placed in front of Her Majesty and Prince Philip which houses salt and also mustard.
The new exhibition will also allow visitors to see the various outfits that The Queen has worn to her Garden Parties. Every year, over 30,000 pass through the Palace to attend one and Her Majesty will usually host at least three and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
Each will invite, on average, 8,000 guests, who will go on to consume approximately 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 cakes.
Garden Parties generally take place between 16:00 and 18:00, although the Palace gates are open from around 15:00. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, usually accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, enter to the sound of the National Anthem which is played by one of the two military bands.
‘A Royal Welcome’ will allow visitors to see the various evening dresses and glittering jewellery worn by The Queen at State Banquets and also her hats, worn during the Garden Parties.
The exhibition will also include the knighting stool and knighting sword used by The Queen and other members of the royal family to confer knighthoods at Investitures. At Buckingham Palace, these are held in the Ballroom whilst others are held in The Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle and other rooms at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Tickets for the Summer Opening are available to book on the Royal Collection Trust’s website. Prices start from £20.50 for adults and £11.80 for children under 17.