Tuesday was rather rainy, but that’s ok because we spent most of the day inside Buckingham Palace.
Well, we also napped in the afternoon, because of the ridiculous amount of walking we did on Monday. We were actually tired for a few days after that.
anyway, i bought passes for the palace online before we left – there were different packages to choose from, and i chose the one called “A Royal Day Out,” which included the palace, the queen’s gallery and the royal mews. it was 32 pounds apiece, which right now is $50. the actual palace itself is only open in august and september, so i figured we should go see it because we were there then and who knows when we’d get back, and who knows if we’d get back in august or september. also, it said that if you got this package, you could go into the palace or the mews at any time during the day; otherwise, if we’d just bought tickets for the palace, we’d have had to go at a specific time, and i read plenty of stories online about people getting there before their alloted time and having to wait and wait and wait.
since i don’t like waiting, and i knew it would be crazy crowded which kevin would HATE, i figured that the royal day out would be the way to go.
it was a short walk from our b&b to the palace; we did have to get to the queen’s gallery at a specific time, i think it was maybe 9:45 a.m. we got there about 9:30 and were shocked to see that there was NO LINE! that’s because, i think, the gallery isn’t the main attraction so not as many people are interested in it. because the gallery wasn’t even open yet we decided to walk the short distance to the palace gates just to check it out and it was a MADHOUSE. people were clamoring for tickets, but it was all sold out for the day.
when i’d bought the tickets online a couple of weeks before we left, i noticed that some of the days were already full, so this didn’t surprise me.
we went back to the queen’s gallery and it opened and we were the FIRST PEOPLE UP TO THE COUNTER. i handed the guy my printout from my computer and he typed in the info and printed me out all our lovely tickets for the day. sweet.
i was very excited about getting in so easily, and no crowds, plus the thought of seeing the palace. we both went into the bathrooms first of all, and when i went into the women’s, i immediately started shooting video because it was VERY VERY FANCY.
the funny thing is that kevin was taking pictures in the men’s! so we were both pretty awestruck by the grandeur of the place.
so here’s my auspicious first photo for you, the mens’ urinals at the queen’s gallery.
you understand, though, that the queen’s gallery isn’t actually in the castle – it’s a totally separate building, and houses a bunch of extra stuff that the queen has – here’s the official description from the Royal Collection website:
The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace is a permanent space dedicated to changing exhibitions of items from the Royal Collection, the wide-ranging collection of art and treasures held in trust by The Queen for the Nation.
the gallery was fairly small, with some cool things, and not crowded.
kevin didn’t take so many pictures, and i didn’t take much video. it was kind of neat, but we wanted to press on.
when we left the place, there was suddenly a VERY VERY LONG LINE, so even though the queen’s gallery isn’t as fascinating to people, there were still many people who wanted to see it.
next, we went to the Royal Mews, which was close to the queen’s gallery. there was a kind of big crowd inside, but not so bad. actually, most of it was actually outside; the royal mews is a kind of a stable, but it mostly houses the royal carriages and cars. i guess the royal horses are there sometimes, but they spend a lot of time on holiday. we were out in the central courtyard, and we’d look in at each room housing some spendiferous carriage or vehicle. i listened to the audioguide, but kevin didn’t so much. there was a big mass of people standing in front of each place, and i know that annoyed him so he decided not to listen. he did take a few pictures, though.
i don’t remember which fancy coach this is, but i know i did identify them in the video.
and here’s the ROLLS ROYCE PHANTOM that kate rode in to her wedding! i also have video of this.
and i took this pictures with my video camera, and when i was looking at the photos later i couldn’t figure out what this was – it’s a royal emblem on the side of the car.
here you can see a few of the throngs in front of yet another fancy carriage.
there were a bunch of carriages inside the horse stable, but i don’t know if they actually use it as a stable ever – it certainly didn’t smell like a stable, and the carriages took up a lot of room. it was nice to be inside, out of the drizzle.
here’s the piece de resistance, the super DUPER fancy gold carriage, which was really quite a sight to see.
SO crazy ornate! it’s hard to imagine that people still ride in these carriages.
i have much more video of the royal mews, if you want to watch it.
and then, it was ON TO THE PALACE!
i don’t know why i didn’t videotape the huge, HUGE throng of people waiting their turn to go inside, not to mention the gobs of people outside the gates dying to get in. it was funny, because it didn’t look at all like we’d be going inside the palace; it’s not like they led us up the front steps or anything. we went into a giant roofed temporary place, where there were many groups of people queuing.
and magically, because we had our SPECIAL GOLDEN TICKETS, we got to go right to the group that was going to enter next, the 11:30 group as i recall. i think that all the groups had to wait quite a while, but not the magic ticket holders. we did wait maybe 15 minutes or so, but it was nothing. we met a nice scottish couple; she’d been inside the palace once, but the husband hadn’t.
i’ve learned that just because scotland and england are on the same continent, that doesn’t mean that the people travel from on to the other that much. i wonder if there isn’t still some leftover rancor from all the battling they did so long ago? we met a nice english couple later in the trip, and the guy said that when he went to scotland, the scottish people WERE NOT NICE to him. when we were there, they were nothing but nice.
and when we were in scotland, we met an english couple on a train; they’d just climbed the big mountain in the north of scotland, mount…nevis? no, i can’t remember the name, but anyway, they’d never been to scotland.
anyway, the time in line passed quickly and in we went.
it felt more like shuffling through the huge lines at disneyland instead of going into BUCKINGHAM PALACE.
once inside, though, WOW.
i remember talking to somebody who’d been through who didn’t like it because it was too…what? over the top? BUT IT’S A PALACE, of course it’s going to be over the top! it would be disappointing if it were any other way.
there was NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR VIDEOTAPING allowed inside, so instead i found these photos online of a few of the rooms.
this is one of the first places we saw, the grand staircase.
this is the blue drawing room, and honestly, i can’t remember exactly what it looked like when we were there. well, for one thing, there were HORDES of people everywhere, it wasn’t all serene and elegant like it is in the picture.
this might have been the room with a separate room off of it with a special display of fabulous faberge eggs and other faberge beautiful little things. now that room was a horribly crowded experience, with people waiting in a big line to walk past the stuff, and pushy people nudging you from behind. the faberge stuff, though – breathtaking.
this is the white drawing room, and you see the picture of the woman (i bet it’s the queen, or at least some queen) on the far wall – next to it is a giant mirror, and there’s a SECRET DOORWAY behind it, so the queen can slip in and out of it whenever she wants to! i kept my eye on the door, but she didn’t do any slipping while we were there.
that’s because she was in scotland, shooting things.
i mean, every one of these rooms, i walked in and thought THIS IS WHERE THEY ENTERTAIN. it’s hard to wrap my mind around that.
this is the green drawing room, and beyond it is the THRONE ROOM.
yes, this is the room where they took the ROYAL PORTRAIT OF THE WEDDING PARTY. the picture was set up on an easel.
also, if i remember correctly, this is where the actual wedding dress with accompanying shoes, jewels, etc, was on display in a glass case, and the cake was in another case. a video was playing at one end of the room, all about the making of the dress. you could sit down on steps here, and many people were doing that, but i didn’t really care about a dress video, and of course kevin didn’t either.
it was neat to see the TEENY TINY dress that the VERY SKINNY kate wore, and then i stood around a while in order to get right up next to the cake.
the cake was seven layers, and they said that the top three layers were reproductions because they saved the top layer to eat later, i guess, and they served the other two layers to guests.
i’m thinking that only a very select part of the guests got any real wedding cake, because those 2nd and 3rd layers were pretty small.
i saw the cut they made in the cake on the bottom layer, but i continue to not understand why they didn’t actually cut a PIECE out of the cake, instead of just slicing into it. i guess it’s for the photo op and that’s it.
plus, why wasn’t the entire cake on display the fake cake? did they eat those bottom layers once they closed the palace to visitors at the end of september? the whole thing seems a little bit funny to me, personally.
after our palace tour we had tea outside. remember, it was a drizzly day, and kind of chilly, and they had a huge open-air tent thing set up, and there were, of course, scads of people milling about trying to get some tea.
we waited in line, though, and finally managed to find a little table.
i thoroughly enjoyed my delicious chocolate dessert, complete with crown-stamped chocolate coin.
kevin took this picture to show the royal emblem on the plastic tray.
and here’s a Royal Paper Cup. kevin wiped ours out and brought them home. i don’t know how he managed to get them back here without smashing them, but he’s much more careful than me. i wonder if he knows where they are now? i bet if i looked around, i’d see them.
this was the view of the back of the palace.
and here’s where we had our tea. the person with the umbrella is one of the many worker, who were there to answer any questions anybody might have.
we walked on a soggy path through the gardens, and i did shoot a little bit of video there; it just wasn’t so nice in the rain. before that, though, we stopped off at the huge temporary tent that was a giftshop and bought many, many souvenirs, including a soft little crown like the ones we saw on top of the lights at Windsor Castle.
we also stopped at the temporary bathrooms; there were no bathrooms on the castle tour, because a CASTLE DOESN’T HAVE PUBLIC BATHROOMS. these were definitely the fanciest temporary bathrooms i’ve ever been in, but there were way too many people in there to take any video.
actually, later in our trip we went to leeds castle and they also had super-fancy portable bathrooms; i bet i did get some video of that. i guess we’ll all find that out eventually.
after touring the castle we took a lovely nap, and then got on the bus to go meet friends for dinner.
here is trafalgar square.
and here are our friends, mary and her husband alan. actually, we’d never met alan, but he was super-friendly and nice and we had a good visit with them. we met mary and her friend carol on the Queen Mary 2 coming back from Scotland, and soon you will see carol and HER husband alan. this makes it much easier, when everybody has the same name.
and here’s my video of our third day, including EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE of the women’s bathroom at the queen’s gallery. i bet you won’t find any of that anywhere on youtube!
VIDEO DAY THREE: