Fancy a nose around Buckingham Palace? Luckily HM The Queen kindly leaves London for several months each summer so can pop in! As well as enjoying the sumptuous state rooms of Buckingham Palace, you can visit their special exhibition which changes each year. For 2014 we have ‘Royal Childhood’ as the theme, no doubt inspired by Prince George’s first birthday. They have well-loved toys and pristine ones, childhood outfits and gifts to the royal families from the time of the future George lV in 1767 through to Prince George of Cambridge.
Entering by the side door, sadly not through the front entrance, you are soon into the heart of the official royal residence in London. There is a no photo ban on the state rooms but we could snap away in the special exhibition.
I’ve picked out my favourite items but there are over 150 items in all spanning over 250 years and many generations of the royal family. The blanket intrigued me as I can’t imagine how Queen Victoria had the time or the inclination to make her own!
Royal outfits feature strongly and I enjoyed the display of mannequins in front of photos of the same outfit:
Other charming gems were the earliest remaining dress belonging to a Princess Victoria in around 1830 and a delightful silk plaid dress from 1844 worn by a Prince!
Saving your child’s drawings and writings happens in all families and the Royals are no different so Prince Charles’s artwork and the Queen’s notebook are on display, although I doubt they ever got stuck onto the fridge!
What struck me was that the Royals have much the same toys like the rest of us but they are much much bigger and better! One great example of this is Prince Andrew’s fully functioning James Bond car with rotating number plates, a working smoke screen and which is big enough for a child to sit in and drive. There is a miniature caravan which you could live in and Parisian dolls dressed in Lanvin!
There are some delightful films playing as you go round the special exhibition, showing the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret having dancing lessons, various royals pushing their children around in carts and the fun sight of Princess Margaret chasing after Prince Charles and Princess Anne!
Prince George does appear in a few photos but this show is mostly about his parents, grandparents and much further back than that!
After enjoying the palace and the Royal Childhood, visitors are rewarded by the great cafe overlooking the enormous gardens where the cakes come with chocolate crowns on! Suitably refreshed you are ready to attack the shop with quality royal-themed gifts for all tastes. A new feature this year is the Family Pavilion with games, a rocking horse and a stage with a dressing up box to entertain younger visitors. The gardens are delightful and so tranquil you can forget you are in the middle of London until you catch a glimpse of the palace again.
The nuts and bolts:
Opening dates: 26th July – 31st August and 1st – 28th September 2014
Entry prices: Adults £19.75, over 60/students with card £18, under 17s £11.25 and under 5s free (timed ticket fee of £1.25 per ticket)