My birthday gift to my mum this year was a 'Royal Day Out' at Buckingham Palace. Although her birthday was back in May, we decided the best time to make the trip would be September, as certain parts of the palace are opened up to the public between late-July and early-October (and we wanted to avoid the surge of people during the summer months).
Of course, I was actually really ill on the day (typical), but I'd booked a few weeks in advance and obviously wasn't going to back out. It was a very warm day, which didn't help the sickness feeling, but I powered through and we had a pretty nice day.
A Royal Day Out ticket includes admission to the Queen's Gallery, the Royal Mews, and the State Rooms; you can alternatively by individual tickets to each attraction if you're on a time limit. In all, from when we entered the Gallery to when we left through the garden, we were there for around five hours, so the full day experience really does cover the bulk of the day.
We began at the Queen's Gallery, which essentially had two main exhibits. The first was Maria Merian's Butterflies. The images were very vibrant and depicted the life cycles of insects, which was done very nicely. Essentially her paintings were used educationally, as a means to educate the people of the 1700s on the insects life cycles, and informing them of what she'd learnt during her time in Suriname.
The other exhibition displayed the work of Scottish Artists between 1750-1900. These paintings were more focused on people, with many portraits, but still with the odd landscape image (my personal favourites). There were many paintings of the royal family throughout this period, in particular, of course, Queen Victoria.
After the Gallery, we went on to the Mews. The royal carriages are beeeeeautiful. I cannot even begin to describe the grandeur and attention to detail. Absolutely stunning. It was so interesting to read into the history of the Royal Mews and the Riding School as well, and to learn about the day-to-day routine there. There were two horses out to be seen, but they looked a little shy and a bit hot and bothered sadly (it was a very hot day).
Due to the heat, we grabbed an ice lolly and sat in the shade for a little break before entering the State Rooms in our allocated time slot (entry to the Gallery and State Rooms are timed, but you can enter the Mews at whatever time you wish - so if you wanted more time in the Gallery, you could come back to the Mews after the State Rooms).
The State Rooms were pretty darn stunning. Everything was as elegant as you can imagine and in perfect colour schemes. This was by far the hottest of the three locations though, so if you end up going on a hot day, be warned - there are benches to sit down throughout, but they will be crowded.
The Queen's Wardrobe display was out, so we got to have a look at some of her outfits, from when she was very young, to more recent ones, like her outfit for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
Of all the rooms, I must say the Music Room was my favourite, closely followed by the Blue Drawing Room. They were just, perfect? I don't think you could possibly design any room better. Very impressive.
When leaving the State Rooms, you head out into the Garden, where there's a little cafe; we had ice cream (of course), which was very nice. And then we hit up the gift shop, which was something else. The tea sets were everything I could ever dream of but £££££ golly were they pricey. We settled for some fancy tins of biscuits and a bar of chocolate with the palace on it. But one day, I'd like a few cups and saucers for my future home.
All in all, we had a really nice day (almost nice enough to forget how dreadful I felt, but unfortunately not quite). We rounded it off with a wander through Green Park, before heading off to catch our train home.
Personally, I think Buckingham Palace is definitely worth having a look around. And, additionally, you can convert your tickets into a year's pass if you get it stamped at one of the three attractions, which we did. As a result we're hoping to head back on a cooler date, which will hopefully make another day even more enjoyable.
Until next time.