Image by Matt From London, with permission
It's quite obvious that we like looking around other people's houses. And the ultimate domicile to snoop through would be the Queen's London pad. But Buckingham Palace is... a palace. It's massive. So how to enjoy it now that the Queen is out of town for the summer?
While Her Maj is away in Scotland for August and September, the huddled masses are allowed in to the State Rooms to gawp at the gilded ceremonial halls where special guests are received, wined and dined. While the average person has perhaps one room kept slightly tidier than the rest of the house in which to meet guests, the Queen has 19 such rooms and items from the Royal Collection are dotted about. On the same ticket, you can visit the garden too, a huge walled green space in the middle of London. Visitors are kept on the south side at the end of touring the State Rooms, so no roaming or lurking in the trees until everyone else goes home.
This is where the Queen's horses live, and where she keeps her shiny gold carriage. Horses not always on view (they do have jobs to do, you know) but if stables are more interesting to you than antique armchairs and dinner sets, get a ticket to the Royal Mews rather than the State Rooms.
The Queen's Gallery is the exhibition space where items from the Queen's collection of art and treasures are brought out on display. Currently, it's all the stuff that Victoria and Albert collected, which is a substantial and fascinating art collection.
The Palace's own café has just opened! Serving coffee and tea, scones, salads, cakes and Sandringham apple juice but probably not cucumber sandwiches, it sounds a bit low-key, especially after all the priceless porcelain and gold trimmed plates in the State Rooms. But to make up for the paper cups and plastic trays, there is a view over the royal gardens and the chance to say you've taken tea at the Palace. Nick Griffin just missed this trick.
Don't want to pay the £30.50 combo ticket to see all the above? Don't fancy paying even £15.00 for just the Mews and the Gallery? Or £8.75 for the Gallery, or £7.75 for the Mews? Well, the Royal Collection Flickr account launched just this Monday so you can do a very lazy tour of your own. There are lots of great hats to look at, among other things.
If you just want to know when to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace or be in the loop about which member of royalty is doing what at any point, there's a BritishMonarchy Twitter account. Note: very few lunch tweets have been seen, but lots of plaque unveiling and awards get mentioned.