It’s one of the most recognisable buildings in the world and an iconic symbol of British royalty, but while the exterior of Buckingham Palace is familiar to us all, much of the inside remains a mystery … until now.
The official floor plans of the entire palace might have never been released, but the team at HomeAdvisor, along with architect Jelena Popovic, decided to dig in and create the plans themselves to give the public an inside peek at life inside Buckingham Palace.
Of course, there are rooms that are totally off-limits to anyone except staff and the royals themselves, so those spaces will likely remain a mystery. But HomeAdvisor painstakingly gathered pre-existing plans, photos, and information to create floor plans for each of the three core sections of the palace: The Central Block, The Queen’s Apartments, and the East Front.
The Central Block
This section of the palace is open for public tours each summer, so you might have seen some of it for yourself already, such as the luxurious grand staircase lined with red carpet. Designed by architect John Nash and surrounded by royal portraits and a dramatic skylight, this is where guests enter the State Rooms for their tour.
Upstairs you’ll find the Music Room, which has hosted several royal christenings, including those of Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince William.
Across the hallway is the Green Drawing Room, which leads to the Throne Room, a highlight of the palace tour. You might remember this bold red space from the official wedding portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
You’ll also find the State Dining Room, where many grand functions are held, including the wedding reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. Down the hallway is the White Drawing Room, used regularly for audiences and small gatherings; members of the Royal Family often gather here before events.
Head downstairs and you’ll see the 1844 Room, one of the most important rooms in the palace where distinguished state visitors and celebrities are greeted. Decorated with gold columns, blue-and-gold furniture and an intricate carpet, this room has a bright, elegant feel for VIP guests.
Next door is the Regency Room with its green-and-gold colour scheme, which you’ve surely spotted in some of The Queen’s official photographs and Christmas broadcasts.
The Queen’s Apartments
Unlike the more public and photographed rooms in the Central Block, The Queen’s private apartments remain behind wraps and few photos exist.
Her Majesty regularly uses just six of the palace’s 775 rooms, all located in these private apartments. The rooms include her bedroom, private sitting room, dressing room, and bathroom, all of which are off-limits to everyone but The Queen and her inner circle.
One exception is the Audience Room, where she conducts regular private audiences with the Prime Minister and other world leaders, and a waiting room called the Empire Room.
An unexplored part of the Queen‘s Apartments are Margaret “Bobo” MacDonald’s suites. MacDonald served as a nanny, dresser and trusted confidante of The Queen until her death in 1993 and it is unknown if these suites have been repurposed since then.
The East Front
The East Front or East Wing is where Buckingham Palace’s principal entrance is located and the section of the palace most of the public knows, with its iconic balcony and ornate gates.
“Designed by Edward Blore in the 1840s, the East Wing of Buckingham Palace was built for Queen Victoria to provide more entertaining and living space for her expanding family,” the Royal Family shared on Instagram. “Blore’s design included the famous central balcony on the front façade of the Palace, which was incorporated at Prince Albert’s suggestion. Since then it has been used on many national occasions, including annually at Trooping the Colour.”
A £369 million makeover to this area of the palace was in the works but has since been stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Reservicing programme is vital in order to mitigate the risk of fire and flood and will ensure that old wiring is brought in line with current health and safety standards,” according to the palace. “The refurbishment will also improve visitor access and make the Palace more energy efficient.”
Back in February, the Royal Family shared some Instagram footage of the restoration work taking place.
The video shows the gorgeous early 19th-century Chinese wallpaper in the Yellow Drawing Room being removed by hand to prevent it from being damaged by neighboring construction work. The room was used by Queen Victoria for entertaining and is now used for official functions and meetings.
Down the corridor is the Chinese Dining Room or Centre Room, furnished in the Chinoiserie style, a 17th- and 18th-century interior design trend that represents fanciful European interpretations of Chinese styles. Queen Victoria wrote in her diary in 1849 that “a dragon has been painted on the ceiling to harmonise with the rest.”
Many of the furnishings in this room were taken from a former royal residence that was highly influenced by the styles of China and India – the famed Royal Pavilion in Brighton. During the renovations, around 150 of the works of fine art in the East Front’s rooms were returned on loan to their former home at the Royal Pavilion.
As for the rest of the rooms in the palace, many are reserved for the live-in staff (there are a whopping 188 staff bedrooms) as well as office and apartment space for members of the Royal Family including 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.
Although none of The Queen’s children live at Buckingham Palace anymore, Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex retain space at the palace to use when duty requires, and the Sussexes used to keep their offices there as well.