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King Charles and Queen Camilla waving from palace balcony on coronation day© Getty

King Charles opens up iconic room at Buckingham Palace to visitors in royal first

The monarch's London residence has been at the centre of many historic royal occasions

Emily Nash
Emily Nash - London
Royal EditorLondon
6 days ago
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They are arguably the most famous net curtains in the world. And from Monday, visitors to Buckingham Palace will be able to stand behind them, inside the room that opens onto its famous balcony, for the first time in history.

The newly-restored Centre Room, where the royal family gathers ahead of their big balcony moments, opens to visitors for the first time on 15 July.

The royals have celebrated coronations, weddings, and jubilees from the room and it is where the King chose to record his last Christmas Day message in December.

Tourists can now enjoy the same view down the Mall that the King and his family see from its windows – minus the TV normally placed in a corner so that the royals can watch the crowds on the Mall before stepping out.

The lavishly decorated Centre Room is on the route of a new guided tour of the Palace's East Wing, which was added to the Palace by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to house their growing family between 1847 and 1849.

Centre Room in Buckingham Palace© Peter Smith
The Centre Room features two Chinese 18th-century imperial silk wall hangings, presented to Victoria by Guangxu, Emperor of China, to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 1897

Caroline de Guitaut, Surveyor of the King’s Works of Art at the Royal Collection Trust, says: "It was Prince Albert’s idea to have a balcony at Buckingham Palace, because he saw it as a way of enabling the royal family to connect with the people, and of course that's exactly how, in a sense, it continues to be used on important occasions."

She added: "But it began to be used very early on in Queen Victoria's reign, from 1851 waving off the troops to the Crimean War and welcoming them back on return."

The Centre Room’s magnificent lotus-shaped chandelier
The Centre Room’s magnificent lotus-shaped chandelier has been restored

While visitors are not allowed to go out onto the balcony or take photographs, they can admire the lavish tastes of George IV, whose vast collection of artworks, furniture and decorations was brought to London by Queen Victoria from his holiday home, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

The Principal Corridor at Buckingham Palace
Queen Victoria and her consort furnished the corridor with chairs, side tables, large pagodas and Chinese porcelain

They include portraits of Kings, Queens, Emperors and Empresses, Chinese celadon vases, lamps and pagodas mounted on gilt bronze, George IV sofas and chairs and a room decorated with hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpaper which was painstakingly removed, cleaned, conserved and reinstalled in the Yellow Drawing Room over a two-year period during reservicing work.

Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace© Peter Smith
Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace

The decision to open the East Wing to the public has been driven by the King, who is keen to make royal residences more accessible to the public.

The Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace
The East Wing’s Yellow Drawing Room is home to the extraordinary Kylin Clock, which was recently conserved

"His Majesty is very much behind this, he has very much wanted to see everything and has been through the spaces," says Caroline.

"It's his decision to make a publicly accessible. And it's obviously a tremendous benefit to make these spaces accessible to the public for the first time, given that that was previously not the case."

The Jonathan Yeo portrait of King Charles© William Charnley/The Drapers' Company
Visitors will also be able to view the Jonathan Yeo portrait of King Charles

All 6,000 tickets for guided tours of the East Wing tour, priced at £75, sold out within hours of going on sale in April. The new route takes visitors through the Centre Room, Yellow Drawing Room and 240 foot-long Principal Corridor, as well as the 19 State Rooms which are already accessible on visitors on a standard ticket.

This year visitors can also admire the new portrait of King Charles by artist Jonathan Yeo, which is on display in the ballroom.

For more information visit: but if you can't wait to visit, Emily Nash will be giving an intimate account of her early-access East Wing tour to members of The HELLO Royal Club! To find out how to become a member of HELLO!'s brilliant royal community, see below. 


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