The paying public can picnic at the palace this summer as the Queen opens her private 39-acre London garden for visitors to explore on their own for the first time.
With pandemic restrictions forcing the cancellation of the traditional summer opening of Buckingham Palace for a second year, self-guided tours of the landscaped grounds will be offered from July to September.
The scene of countless garden parties and rare jubilee concerts, the wildlife-rich oasis in the heart of the capital boasts more than 1,000 trees, including a mulberry tree dating from James I of England, and a 19th-century lake – once adorned of a small flock of flamingos victim of a daring fox.
The visitors’ route will include the 156-meter herbaceous border, plane trees planted by and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and views of the island and its beehives across the 3.5-acre, water-fed lake. by the Serpentine into nearby Hyde Park.
Picnics will be allowed on one of the large lawns. The rose garden, summer house and wildflower meadow can be seen through guided tours, which will also be offered.
Originally laid out by Capability Brown, the current design dates back to the 1820s, when George IV transformed Buckingham House into a palace, with the gardens redesigned by William Townsend Alton.
The land, formerly known as the Goring Great Garden, was, ironically, the site of parliamentary earthworks during the English Civil War (1642-51), although archaeologists on the Time Team TV program have found no remains when they were authorized to excavate. the grounds.
The Covid restrictions mean that the usual palace tours will not take place, but smaller guided tours of the State Rooms and Gardens will be available from May through September. Access to the gardens will be available from July 9 to September 19.
On weekends, tours of the garden will take place in April and May, when visitors can see its spring meadows carpeted with primroses and hyacinths, as well as flowering shrubs and trees of camellias, magnolias and azaleas.
A spokesperson for the Royal Collection Trust said: ‘We expect social distancing will still be in place this summer and visitor numbers to London will be low for some time to come due to the uncertainty surrounding domestic travel and international. The costs incurred to open the palace to the public in the usual manner would be far greater than the visitor entries and sales revenues one might expect.
“However, we are delighted to offer this year unique access to Buckingham Palace Garden as an alternative.”
Visitor information and tickets can be found on www.rct.uk or on +44 (0) 303 123 7300.