A Royal Welcome, The Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, until 27th September 2015.
It is hard to imagine the idea, living in a small flat, that as many as sixty-two thousand guests were invited to Buckingham Palace last year. They came to Garden Parties, receptions, Investitures, private audiences and finally and certainly not least State Visits with their full panoply of splendour.
For the first time this year visitors to the Summer Opening are allowed to enter the Palace through the Grand Entrance. As you do so you will pass the Australian State Coach which was used to bring Prince Philip and Señora Rivera de Peña, wife of the President of the United Mexican States, in the procession which brought the Queen and the Mexican President to the Palace at the commencement of their State Visit in March this year.
As you progress through the State Rooms you will come upon displays that reflect the various reasons why guests are invited. In the Throne Room Investitures is the theme with a display of orders, the Knighting Stool and sword as well as paintings of recipients of the Order of Merit.
The State Banquet in the Ballroom is the highlight of a State Visit and this year visitors see how the table is set-out for a banquet. It is a truly impressive sight with pieces from George IV’s silver-gilt Grand Service adorning the table which has one hundred and seventy place settings. It must be even more spectacular when the Queen and her guests are there.
Just before you go into the Ballroom you pass through the Ball Supper Room which has displays showing some of the behind-the-scenes preparations for a State banquet including the kitchens, silver and china pantries and the wine cellars. The recreation of the Dresser’s workroom includes items worn by the Queen and in adjoining displays there are some of her evening gowns worn at Banquets over the years as well as some of her personal diamond jewellery which she wears with them.
In the State Dining Room some of the gifts presented to Her Majesty by visiting Heads of State are on show. It is customary for gifts to be exchanged on the first day of a State Visit as a token of goodwill. Garden Parties are celebrated in the display in the Music Room. As you leave the Palace through the Bow Room the doors are open to the 1844 Drawing Room on the right which is set up for a meeting of the Privy Council. It is also the room where new Ambassadors present their credentials to the Queen and where she receives people in audience.
Visitors to the Summer Opening always get a most warm and friendly welcome from all the attendants on duty which helps make it such a special pleasure to visit the Palace. What this year’s theme does is show how very special and wonderful it is to be invited as a guest of Her Majesty the Queen.