Buckingham Palace – Review for families

What you need to know about this very regal tourist attraction

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What is it?

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The official home of the British royal family since 1837 and the administrative base for the monarchy – part of it is also a hot spot for tourists. It’s right beside St James’s Park. Find it by Green Park, Hyde Park Corner and Victoria tube stations.

Best for:

9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

Toddlers & Preschool / 5 – 8

Cost:

£££ – under 5’s go free, but all other adults and children pay a hefty fee to visit the palace, depending on which parts of the palace they’d like to visit.

What’s on offer

A tour of various sections of Queen Elizabeth II’s house – which can include the State Rooms, The Gardens and the actual palace itself depending on which ticket you’ve bought.

In the State Rooms, children can explore The Throne Room and The Ballroom as well as dressing up like royalty and riding a rocking horse at the Family Pavilion. All of this comes with a family multimedia guide, designed for children under the age of 12. An ‘exclusive tour’ of the State Rooms is available. There’s also the picture gallery, featuring many famous portraits of renowned royals.

In the garden, enjoy getting back to nature and marvelling at the fish, birds and insects which call the park home or pick up refreshments in the café.  As with most attractions, special royal galleries, displays and exhibits about poetry, art and historical fashion, among others, are often available. The Family Pavilion may not be open all year round. Consult the website to find out what’s on during your visit.

Elsewhere in the palace, visitors can marvel at the stunning building where Duchess Kate Middleton kissed new husband Prince William on the balcony – twice! A popular reason to visit the palace is to watch the Changing of the Queen’s Guard, particularly with visitors from abroad and of course, children.

It’s a classic tourist spot and education experience for all involved. For added information, your ticket includes an accompanying audio guide. At the end of your visit, if you get your ticket stamped your pass will be made into an annual pass.

Highlights

Whilst the palace has obviously made an effort to cater to the needs of families with young children – making their multimedia guide more interactive, opening the Family Pavilion and so on – it’s still not the most ideal spot for children.

However, no child can say no to a pile of dressing up clothes and a rocking horse! If you’re lucky enough to catch the Changing of the Guard, then consider yourself a diamond in the rough. Not many tourists catch that iconic and mystified moment and it’s sure to be awe inspiring and if your child is British, make them feel all patriotic.

The palace is surrounded by beautiful, outstretched parks – so even if the palace itself doesn’t spark your child’s imagination – the open parks sure will.

What to watch out for

– Wear comfortable shoes, as there’s a lot of walking involved.

– Toilets and baby changing facilities aren’t available until the end of the tour, which isn’t ideal for little ones with weak bladders, potty-training tots or babies.

– All personal belongings will go through an airport-esque security check upon entering the palace. You’ll have to remove all the metal from yours and your child’s bag and pockets.

– Buggies among other items won’t be permitted inside and will have to be checked in at the cloakroom and reclaimed at the end of your visit. Baby carriers and hip seats can be borrowed, though these are subject to availability.

– You can’t take food or drink inside the palace, either.

– Phones must be switched off and photography is not permitted.

– Avoid weekend trips and half-term visits, if you can.

– There’s not a lot of public amenities directly outside of the palace; it’s mostly big parks.

– You can’t visit the palace when the Queen is at home.

MFM tips:

– Arrive earlier than 11am to get a good spot for the Changing of the Guard (which starts at around 11:30am).

– Expect to spend no more than 2.5 hours here in total.

What the owners say

“Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every year.”

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Visit the official Buckingham Palace website

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