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What's It Like To Live At Buckingham Palace?

Updated April 9, 2021 415.1k views12 items

What is life like in Buckingham Palace? That continues to be a bit of a mystery. As a royal residence and an official state building, Buckingham Palace operates in both private and public spheres. Buckingham Palace on the inside contains rooms designated for official purposes, with private apartments nearby for the queen and members of her family.

Living and working in Buckingham Palace comes with a variety of perks - staff enjoy everything from medical services to exercise facilities. Some of the challenges of the aging structure, including a leaking roof and falling detritus, may not seem like the ideal living situation, but as part of Buckingham Palace's history, these defects could just be considered part of the building's charm. The size and grandeur of Buckingham Palace exceeds general knowledge, and maybe even expectation, giving individuals living in Buckingham Palace access to much more than meets the eye.

  • Photo: Sir Alexander Nelson Hood / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    No One Sits On The Thrones, Not Even The Queen

    Aptly named the Throne Room, one of the state rooms in Buckingham Palace is home to two thrones called the Chairs of Estate. The chairs were made for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, in 1953. Chairs used by previous rulers King George VI, crowned in 1937, and Queen Victoria, crowned in 1837, are located in the room as well. 

    Elizabeth II's throne is embroidered with 'EIIR' - her royal cypher for "Elizabeth II Regina" - and has been sat upon only once. After her coronation ceremony, the queen used the Throne Chair, now located at Windsor Castle. 

  • The Palace's Garden Is So Big It Includes Both A Lake And An Island

    The 40 acres of gardens at Buckingham Palace feature more than 300 types of British wildflowers, 150 trees, 30 species of birds, and numerous types of moths and butterflies. Within the garden, a lake spans 3 acres and has its own small island. On the island, the palace keeps Italian honeybees. The queen enjoys organic honey made by the bees. 

    London's oldest helicopter pad also takes up some garden space, as does a tennis court, the Herbaceous Border, and ornamentation like the Waterloo Vase.

  • A Chapel, Post Office, And Doctor's Office Are In The Palace So Staff Don't Have To Leave

    In many ways, Buckingham Palace is autonomous, offering amenities like a post office, cafeteria, movie theater, and doctor's office for the staff. These features make it easy for employees to take care of personal matters without ever having to leave. Additional facilities include a swimming pool, gym, and chapel. The staff can also join a book club or choir, or benefit from on-site counseling services.

    Costs for the medical facilities were the subject of public criticism in 2008. The Health Service Journal revealed 300 household staff were receiving medical services at a rate nearly two times the national average. This was especially troubling because the National Health Service in Britain closed down much larger medical practices with lower expenses.

  • The Palace Bar Was Closed Because Staffers Were Drinking Too Much

    At one point, Buckingham Palace had a bar for the staff, but according to Dickie Arbiter, former press officer for Queen Elizabeth II, the bar was closed due to "worse for wear" staff.

    Based on reports, the queen shut down the on-site watering hole. On at least one occasion, however, the queen served drinks in the palace, handing the Queen Mother's upholsterer, Kevin Andrews, a "builder's tea": a mug of tea with two sugars.