Today marks the 20th anniversary of the announcement that Buckingham Palace would open to the public during the summers.
Considering how important a part of the tourist trail a look around the inside of the Palace is, it does seem odd to think back to a time when the most a person could hope for was a sighting of the changing of the guards from the outside of the huge metal railings.
Originally a temporary scheme lasting just 5-years, now, it would seem almost bizarre that the Palace could ever be closed to the public again.
Just as with the Open House London event, which is coincidentally, 21 this year, people are increasingly expecting to be allowed to wander around once private buildings and peer inside, even if only for a momentary glimpse.
Of course, unlike Open House, the Palace opened its doors because it needed the money — to help fund the repairs of Windsor Castle. That bill long since settled, the expectation of the public to be allowed inside remains unabated, and the Palace sweeps up the tourist currency with gay abandon.
The only upside for us locals is that the entry ticket can be reused again and again for a whole year – so clever people book late one year and keep their ticket to go back early the next year.
For us, the entry price is still an effective £9.50 per yearly visit.
The Palace itself never changes in that unchanging way that we demand of Monarchy today, but they do rotate a fresh display each year, so if you are into that sort of thing, then repeat visits can be worth it.
I popped along last year to the Diamond exhibition, and have to confess that I slightly raced through the Palace — been there, seen that — to get along to the temporary exhibition.
It is really just a rather grand house, and frankly, not as grand as some that lower aristocrats have built in cheaper parts of the country. I still smile at how the banisters and railings are covered in sheets of plastic just in case clumsy commoners touch them. The grand gallery of paintings needs a new roof — the current incumbent looking very “local council” everything is roped off to prevent people getting too close.
The palace opens its doors to the lowly serfs for the 20th year on the 27th July.