New wing of Buckingham Palace and Balmoral to open for tours

King Charles is opening more of the main palace plus the Scottish residence to visitors

It has been no secret King Charles has wished for royal residences to be open to the public for longer periods of time.

That wish has come true, with Buckingham Palace and Balmoral Castle announcing new plans to draw a larger number of visitors to the royal attractions with new access.

The State Carriages for the South African visit approach Buckingham Palace. (MOD)

The Royal Collection Trust has announced the East Wing of Buckingham Palace will be open for the first time this summer, with unique guided tours will be on offer of the Principal Floor in July and August.

The East Wing is located on the front of the Palace, and includes the famous balcony where members of the Royal Family gather for public appearances such as Trooping the Colour, royal weddings and Jubilees.

Yellow Drawing Room (Peter Smith/RCT)

Principal Room (Peter Smith/RCT)

The exclusive tours have been made possible following the conclusion of repairs over the last five years, as part of the Buckingham Palace reservicing programme, to upgrade the historic building’s infrastructure.

There had been speculation even before Charles’ accession that this was something he was keen to do across all royal residences, partly as a money making project to support the historic buildings, but also to allow for more people to enjoy the spaces.

During the tours of Buckingham Palace, 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. This section of the palace is not normally open to visitors during the summer months.

Centre Room (Peter Smith/RCT)

Commissioned by architect Edward Blore at the request of Queen Victoria, the East Wing was added to the Palace between 1847 and 1849, which resulted in the enclosed Palace we see today having been an open horseshoe-shaped courtyard previously.

Tours will take guests through the Principal Corridor where a range of paintings will be on display.

Visitors will also be able to see the Yellow Drawing Room, with the tour concluding in the Centre Room. This leads on to the balcony and features a restored glass chandelier, shaped to resemble a lotus flower, along with two Chinese 18th-century Imperial Silk wall hangings presented to Queen Victoria by Guangxu, Emperor of China, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Balmoral Castle – a Scottish residence of the Royal Family. (Balmoral Castle/Twitter)

On the same day, Balmoral Castle also announced its plans to offer exclusive tours for the first time in its history.

Visitors will be able to see the green drawing room, where Elizabeth II conducted her final public engagement by meeting Prime Minister Liz Truss in September 2022. Also on the tour will be the red corridor, where The King met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the family dining room, the pages’ lobby and the library.

Learning about the history of the castle, visitors will gain a deeper understanding of why the residence is beloved by members of the Royal Family.

Queen Elizabeth II waits in the Drawing Room before receiving Liz Truss for an audience at Balmoral, Scotland, where she invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative party to become Prime Minister and form a new government 

Balmoral has become a place of public interest to an audience outside of avid royal watchers since it was where Elizabeth II died.

Since her death, it has emerged that the late Queen was concerned her death at the Scottish castle might have caused difficulties in terms of logistics: plans for a Monarch’s death in Scotland are more complicated, requiring a car journey to Edinburgh, lying in state in the capital and an RAF flight to London.

Speaking about Balmoral Castle, Elizabeth II previously said: ‘You just hibernate. It is rather nice to hibernate when one leads such a movable life. To be able to sleep in the same bed for six weeks, it is a nice change.’

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