Monday, June 30, 2008

A London Tour of Buckingham Palace

Last summer while on a short few days in London I decided to try out what I thought would be a very touristy expedition and bought tickets to see Buckingham Palace. Now as an Irish-American there were pulls from beyond saying, "Your going where?"

While not a believer in royal status, I do believe in continuity and for the most part I have always admired Queen Elizabeth II. If ever there was a person who understands responsibility, I believe she does. And hey! Its Buckingham Palace.

As a short aside I have a favorite reader of this blog, whom I've known and loved since the day she was born. I'll never forget 1985 and this little blond girl whose dream was about to come true. Prince Charles and more importantly Princess Diana were coming to the White House for a lavish dinner. At the time my other lovely sister was working at the White House and arranged tickets for my mother and baby sister to go to Andrews Air Force Base for the welcoming ceremony. They had weeks of preparation time and seemed to need it. There were countless questions on what to wear and would they get to say hello. All I can remember was that famous sweater with the sheep on it being the instant preppy status accoutrement. At any rate, it was decided that this cute little girl, who was in love with Diana, would carry a small bouquet of blue posies. She even came up with her own idea that she would put a small note in the bouquet, which to this day remains a secret. To conclude this short story my sweet Lisa got to the front of the welcoming crowd and Diana stopped and took her bouquet and made one little girl's year.

Now back to the tour and the point of this post. Should you be in London at the end of July through the end of September do put this on you itinerary. Its so well done. You can buy and schedule your tour all online. The information and things to see are all accessed here at The Royal Collection.

I arrived at the scheduled time ( Don't be late ) and was very impressed at the way the whole show was run. Naturally it was raining and everyone had umbrellas and I was sure this meant you were naturally never going to get it back. Groups are allowed in, in fifteen minute intervals. The tour personnel were all wonderfully clad in blue with red piping outfits and couldn't be more gracious.

Having taken more than my share of guided tour experiences or more truthfully stood at the edge of a lecture trying to glean some free information, I was prepared for a herding atmosphere. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Once your through security an audio phone guide is placed in your hand and your free. I spent the next close to two hours wandering a well cordoned off palace, but was able to see all the important rooms. This summer they are having a special presentation in the Palace's Ballroom which will be set up for a State Banquet. You end the tour out on the back lawn of the Palace, with your umbrella in hand and a wonderful stroll through the grounds gardens. Never once was a rushed through. Finally you have the chance to buy a souvenir in tents placed on the grounds for these two months.

I've been to many places and was truly surprised at how much I enjoyed Buckingham Palace.

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