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Buckingham Palace to open a wing to the public for the first time

The public will get to see two new royal structures this summer: one in Buckingham Palace and another in Scotland.
Buckingham Palace to open a wing to the public for the first time
Posted at 8:20 PM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 22:21:04-04

Ever wanted to stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, waving to crowds of onlookers as the royals do? Well this summer, you'll get your closest shot — though no promises you'll see as big of a crowd as, say, an agitated Prince Louis.

On Wednesday, the Royal Collection Trust announced the palace's East Wing, which encompasses the famous balcony, will be open for guided public tours in July and August.

And although visitors won't be able to stand on the balcony itself — where members of the Royal Family have for most big moments since 1851, including King Charles' 2023 coronation — they'll visit never-before-seen rooms on the Principal Floor, garnished by lavish art from the Royal Collection, and learn the history of the wing, which Queen Victoria and her family first occupied. The tour ends in the Centre Room, which leads onto the famous balcony. 

Though now used by the Royal Family for "official meetings and events," from 1847 to 1849, Queen Victoria commissioned a plan to turn what was once a horseshoe-shaped courtyard into the current East Wing because she needed more space for her "growing family," the Trust says.

The historic wing has been closed to the public since, but the decision to open it now comes after more than five years of "improvement works," completed by Buckingham Palace's Reservicing Program. The Trust says the work was an effort to update the building's infrastructure, "improve access and preserve it for future generations."

But it's not the only royal structure the public can see for the first time this summer: Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family's Scotland estate, is also kicking off guided indoor tours — a first since the castle was completed in 1855, according to its website.

Visitors will be taken through several rooms to learn more about the building's origins, "how it has been loved by generations of the Royal Family" and how they use it today, the castle's website states. 

Balmoral Castle is respected as one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite places. She had been summer vacationing there in 2022 when she died in September, becoming the first monarch to die at the estate.

Tours of Balmoral Castle will run July 1 through Aug. 4, with many dates already sold out. But general admission tickets, including a tour of the grounds and exhibitions, are still available. 

Meanwhile, tickets to see the East Wing must be purchased in addition to a standard State Room ticket. The Palace will be open for tours seven days a week — a first since 2019 — from July until September, when it will go back to five days a week.

SEE MORE: King Charles returns to public outings with Easter Sunday service


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