Each summer Buckingham Palace opens its doors to the public while the Queen is away on her holidays. You can tour the palace and see its richly decorated state rooms and extraordinary art gallery. But there is more! A special exhibition accompanies the opening of the rooms and as it’s Prince Charles’ s 70th birthday this year, he gets to chose his favourite pieces of art to put on display in an exhibition entitled Prince and Patron.
Entering Buckingham Palace is always a treat and they even laid out a red carpet for visitors to walk up!
The tour takes you through the state rooms via the imposing staircase. You can see thrones and all manner of furniture, Sevres porcelains, chandeliers and artwork including paintings by Rembrandt, Canaletto, Hals and Rubens. No photos are allowed in the state rooms but you can get a good idea of its splendour on their website: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace
The special exhibition, Prince and Patron, features not only work from the Royal Collection that Prince Charles has chosen but also work by students and graduates of the 3 charities he has set up. These are The Royal Drawing School, Turquoise Mountain and the Princes’s Foundation of Traditional Arts. The Royal Collection is the royal family’s art collection and is one of the largest in the world, spread across their palaces and galleries.
The works of art, furniture, books, paper, photographs, ceramics and textiles are displayed in one room dominated by the cedar wood pavilion created by Naseer Yasna (Mansouri) and the wood carving team at the Turquoise Mountain. This sets the tone of how the schools are central to his thinking. I really enjoyed the eclectic mix of old masters, items from around the world, new works and family portraits and photo which made it feel more personal and less like an art gallery.
The walls are an impressive mix of styles and materials as this wall of modern and older portraits on a tapestry illustrates with a side table and busts underneath.
There are certainly classic pieces such as Zoffany’s Tribuna of the Uffizi, commissioned by Queen Charlotte in 1772. St Jerome depicted by George de la Tour in the 1620s came into the Royal Collection when Charles ll bought it to replenish the stocks after much of the royal’s art collection had been sold off in Cromwell’s time.
Napoleon’s cloak was a surprise, seized from his baggage train at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. It’s a fine piece with embroidery and appliqued silver and gold thread. The lining is yellow silk brocade woven with pink roses and designs to represent an imperial eagle.
Prince Charles commissioned the Royal Drawing School to produce a series of drawings of veterans and we see 4 of these to celebrate the lives of 4 heroes from the Battle of Britain on this 70th anniversary.
Portraits and photos of Prince Charles’s family can be found all around the room and on the side tables with lovely photos of the Prince and his sons as well as Camilla holding onto her hat!
Many works are by students and graduates of the 3 schools. A couple which really caught my eye are by Jethro Buck and Hannah Rose, although so many other works both old and new are wonderful but too numerous to mention here – worth your visit tho’! Jethro Buck’s beautiful painting shine with brilliant gold and are Japanese in feel but he is heavily influenced by Indian art. Hannah Rose’s piece shows us 3 Yezidi who have escaped ISIS captivity which Prince Charles chose from the degree show at the School of Traditional Arts Degree Show to highlight his support for this community.
As you tour the state rooms there are items that the Prince has chosen to highlight under the Prince and Patron banner and these are noted in your audio guide so don’t miss the chance to admire the carpet in the picture gallery which was commissioned from a young designer as it’s quite beautiful.
I’ve been to several summer exhibitions at Buckingham Palace and this is the best one I’ve seen so I can happily recommend a visit.
Before you leave, why not grab one of the Queen’s finest cakes and a cup of coffee from the cafe in the gardens. I love the attention to detail with the chocolate crown!
To book online and get a timed slot for your entry, check out the Buckingham Palace website and allow plenty of time to enjoy the state rooms, special exhibition, cafe, extensive gift shop and the palace gardens. This year’s opening runs to 30th September. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace
Full disclosure: As is customary in the travel industry, I was invited as a guest to review the new summer exhibition. However, my views are not influenced by this and I paid for my own cake and coffee!