This summer, the public will be able to stand where only royalty has stood and look out through the windows leading onto Buckingham Palace’s famous balcony.

Buckingham Palace’s east wing (c) ianVisits

The chance to look out of the windows (not step through them!) will be possible thanks to the first ever tours of the palace’s East Wing – that’s the front façade that includes the famous central balcony.

The usual summer opening of the palace takes in the main state rooms on the other side of the palace facing the gardens, so this is the first time the “front” of the palace will be open to the public.

Led by guides, the tours will take in the Principal Floor, furnished with highlights from the Royal Collection. Visitors will discover the history of the Wing, first occupied by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children and still used by the Royal Family today for official meetings and events.

East Wing’s centre room – Photo: Peter Smith

The East Wing is also the youngest part of Buckingham Palace. The palace was originally a C-shaped building with three sides, but Queen Victoria ordered the extra wing to be added to create the square shape it has now, and in doing so, apart from occasional redecoration, she created the palace as we see it today.

Since 1851, the Monarch and members of the Royal Family have gathered on the balcony for public appearances during special occasions or historic moments.

If you watched the Coronation documentary on BBC1 recently and wondered why the rooms leading to the balcony (1 hour 31 mins in) looked so plain and undecorated, they were in the middle of restoration work, which has now been completed. It’s the completion of those works that has allowed the East Wing to be opened for tours.

A limited number of East Wing Highlights Tours will run daily in July and August and need to be booked in addition to the standard admission ticket to the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace.

East Wing Highlights Tours will go on sale on Tuesday 9th April. Priority access will be given to Royal Collection Trust email subscribers for 24 hours, before remaining tickets go on general sale to the public on Wednesday 10th April.

East Wing Highlights Tours must be purchased with a ticket to visit to the State Rooms and the combined ticket price will be £75 for adults.

Admission to the State Rooms only is £32 (in advance) and £35 on the day.

Note – photography is not allowed inside the Palace.

East Wing’s principal room – Photo: Peter Smith

The Palace will be open seven days a week during July and August for the first time since 2019, returning to five days a week during September.

This summer will mark the 31st anniversary of the palace opening to the public, and what was intended to be a temporary scheme to fund repairs to Windsor Castle is now a staple of the summer tourist calendar.


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