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Buckingham Palace

The official London residence of the British sovereign, originally known as Buckingham House, was bought in 1761 by King George III to be used by his wife Queen Charlotte as a family home. The Royal Family had previously resided in St James's Palace.

When the Houses of Parliament were destroyed by fire in 1834, the King volunteered Buckingham Palace, which had been reconstructed eight years earlier by John Nash, as a new home for the government - but the offer was declined.

Eleven years on, Queen Victoria became the first ruler to take up permanent residence and discovered many shortcomings - too few bedrooms for visitors and an absence of nurseries. The solution was to built a fourth wing, which entailed moving Marble Arch - formerly the centrepiece of a Palace courtyard - to where it now stands on the north-east corner of Hyde Park.

The Palace has been open to the public since 1992, with the royal standard being flown and the ceremony of changing the guard taking place daily when the Queen is in residence.

The official royal website can be found at