As lockdown continues to ease, the Royal Collection Trust has announced that Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, and The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh will reopen to the public.
Like other museums and galleries, the Royal Collection closed its doors in March, but will now allow visitors back on 23rd July 2020, with more safety measures in place.
Entry will be timed and staggered, to limit the number of visitors inside at any one time, and tickets must be booked in advance. Markers and signs will also help to maintain physical distancing, some one-way systems will be introduced and staff will help manage the flow of people. Hand sanitiser will be available and cleaning procedures enhanced.
With these measures in place, RCT has acquired the ‘We’re Good to Go’ Industry Standard mark, recognised by VisitEngland and VisitScotland.
The Royal Collection, which is held in trust by The Queen for her successors and the nation, is among the largest and most important art collections in the world. It is also one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 15 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public.
The Queen is still based at Windsor Castle, and it is unclear as of yet if she will head to Balmoral this August because of the pandemic. It is not unusual for The Queen to be in residence whilst tourists look around the castle; pre-Covid, visitors at the weekend would have seen the Royal Standard flying from the Round Tower, meaning that some rooms might be closed off for official events.
However, The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, Frogmore House and Clarence House will not open to the public this summer, due to ‘the operational challenges of social distancing’ at these locations.
The Palaces, Galleries and shops will open five days a week, being closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Café at the Palace of Holyroodhouse will also open five days a week, offering takeaway service only for now.
The online Ticket Office is also now open, to book your visit ahead of time. Payments at RCT locations are card only.
Revised opening times:
- Windsor Castle: From 23rd July 2020, Thursday – Monday, 10:00 – 17:15 (last admission 16:00)
- Palace of Holyroodhouse: From 23rd July 2020, Thursday – Monday, 09:30 – 18:00 (last admission 16:30)
- The Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace: From 23rd July 2020, Thursday – Monday, 11:00 – 17:00 (last admission 16:00)
- The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace: From 23rd July 2020, Thursday – Monday, 11:00 – 18:30 (last admission 17:15)
- The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse: From 23rd July 2020, Thursday – Monday, 09:30 – 18:00 (last admission 17:00)
The current programme for The Queen’s Galleries:
- George IV: Art & Spectacle has been extended until 1st November 2020. The exhibition explores the life and collecting of arguably the most magnificent, and certainly the most flamboyant of British monarchs.
- Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace will begin 11th December 2020 – February 2022, showcasing some of the most important paintings in the Royal Collection from the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace.
- Japan: Courts and Culture, originally due to open in June 2020, is now expected to open in Spring 2022.
- Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent will commence from 23rd July 2020 – 31st January 2021. The exhibition presents the Royal Collection’s exceptional holdings of South Asian paintings and manuscripts.
- Victoria & Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour can be seen from 5th March – 5th September 2021. It will explore Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s enthusiastic collecting and commissioning of watercolour paintings to record their public and private lives.