Almost as historic and legendary as the British Royal Family itself is the headquarters and home base for England’s kings and queens – the world-famous royal residence: Buckingham Palace. 

With its staterooms that have hosted leaders of the free world, to its summer Garden Parties for the great and good, to the famous facade that has become an iconic backdrop for modern events, Buckingham Palace has become an established part of the culture of royal life in Great  Britain. 

But this legendary palace is not the most ancient of royal residences, nor has it always held such an eminent role in the canon of great palaces. 

Here are some interesting insights and facts from the story of England’s most famous family home. 

The Famous Royal Balcony

Any devoted royal watchers will be familiar with the famous balcony of Buckingham Palace. It’s been the site for some of the most iconic images of royal events and individuals over the last few decades, and its history goes back even further. 

The young trio that are currently in line to the throne – Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis – may steal the limelight during recent balcony appearances, but the tradition of delighting the adoring public in the grounds below began with their great-great-great-great grandmother. 

Queen Victoria’s presence on the royal balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1851, as part of the Great Exhibition celebrations, was the first recorded royal appearance, and it was the beginning of a tradition that would last to the present day. 

From royal weddings and those much-anticipated First Kiss photos, to the Queen of England celebrating her Platinum Jubilee honors, this famous balcony has played a starring role in the history of Buckingham Palace and its famous royal residents for almost two centuries. 

The British Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

A Royal Family Home

The iconic status of Buckingham Palace may be assured in contemporary culture, but this regal residence was not always as grand and esteemed within royal circles as it is today. 

In 1761, the property was bought by the King of England at the time, King George III. It was acquired as a gift for his wife, Queen Charlotte, to use as a home base that would enable the queen and her children to be close to the hub of royal living and court life at St James’s Palace. 

The palace that we know today is a much more grand and elaborate structure than the original Buckingham House that served as a family home for a number of royal kings, queens and their children. Its early role was less of a grand official headquarters for a great monarchy and more of a homely, central base for family use. 

All that was to change, however, when King George IV hired the famous architect, John Nash, to make additions and alterations to the property that would become not only the official home of England’s kings and queens but also one of the most famous palaces in the world. 

The Famous Portland Stone Facade

Perhaps the most recognized aspect of Buckingham Palace is the ivory stone facade, the backdrop of so many royal ceremonies and events in recent decades. 

Yet this stone exterior is one of the most recent additions to the structure of the original property. Prior to the addition of the new wing that forms the facade of the Buckingham Palace quadrangle, the building was a U-shaped structure.  

Two wings had been added to the previous footprint of Buckingham House, creating the U-shape, and it was only when the final wing was added during the reign of Queen Victoria that the palace assumed its famous square footprint with its intriguing interior courtyard. 

Even the famous Portland stone is a relatively new addition. This was used as a replacement for the softer stone originally used that wasn’t weathering the London conditions with the customary royal stoicism and began to deteriorate. 

While the face of Buckingham House has come to be an instantly recognizable image around the world, it is less of an established and historic exterior than many of the other royal residences and palaces. Windsor Castle, for example, can claim a history of almost a thousand years, though it too has been subject to additions and updates over the centuries. 

Despite its relatively modern history, the high esteem and notoriety of the British Royal Family have ensured that their official headquarters has become a much-loved and hugely popular tourist destination, with approximately half a million tourists and locals alike flocking to those famous iron gates in front of the iconic stone facade. 

A Home Of Two Great Queens

In modern culture, Buckingham Palace is perhaps most associated with the late Queen Elizabeth II, who used the palace as her official residence during her decades-long tenure as the Queen of England. 

Yet the prominence of this famous building was established with another great queen. Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to make Buckingham Palace her official home when she moved into the property in 1837. 

It’s widely believed that much of the renovations were undertaken in order to suit the new queen and her growing family. Despite the addition of impressive new wings, the lack of nurseries and bedrooms became an issue, and the planned restructuring is what led to the final wing and its famous facade. 

While the original property may have needed a degree of extending, renovating, and restoring, Queen Victoria’s reign established Buckingham Palace as the official headquarters of the British monarchy. 

The story of ‘Buck House’ is essentially the story of the kings and queens of England over the last two hundred years. From its more humble origins as a royal townhouse, its incarnation as a regal powerhouse, and its undeniable status as a modern architectural icon, this history of Buckingham Palace is an integral part of the evolution of the British Royal Family. 

While the property may not claim the historic legends and antiquity of some of the other royal residences favored by the kings and queens of the ages, there’s no doubt that this world-famous palace is firmly established in the hearts and minds of people all around the globe.