Visitors to Buckingham Palace this summer will receive a royal welcome as part of a new exhibition. For the first time, tourists will be allowed to enter the State rooms through the Grand Entrance, following in the footsteps of kings, queens and presidents – and the newlywed Duchess of Cambridge - who have been welcomed to the Palace in this way over the centuries.
The exhibition, A Royal Welcome, will give visitors the chance to see first-hand how the Palace copes with the 62,000 guests it entertains each year during state banquets, investitures, garden parties and private audiences.
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The Queen pictured at a state banquet with President Barack Obama
The centrepiece will be the ballroom set up for a state banquet, with the horseshoe-shaped table dressed with silver centrepieces, candelabras and 170 place settings using 2,000 pieces of cutlery.
On display will be the grand service which has been used by successive monarchs for over 200 years, originally commissioned by George IV when he was Prince Regent. It includes 12 ice-pails, 140 dishes, 288 dinner plates, 58 dessert stands, 14 soup tureens and 118 salt cellars.
Visitors will also see the copper moulds used to create chocolate bombe desserts and the red leather seating plan used for the banquets.
Visitors will be able to see the ballroom set up for a state banquet
Dresses and jewellery worn by the Queen at state banquets over the years, and gifts presented by some of the 100 visiting heads of state that she has welcomed to the Palace, will be on display too.
Other outfits included in the exhibition will be those worn by the Queen to her garden parties. There are usually three held at the Palace every year, each with 8,000 guests who consume around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 cakes.
Visitors will also be able to see the knighting stool and knighting sword used by the Queen and other members of the royal family to confer knighthoods at investitures.
A Royal Welcome will run from 25 July until 27 September.