Palace Tours Open: Stepping into Buckingham Palace’s East Wing for the First Time

London – Buckingham Palace, the iconic residence of British royalty, is opening up its East Wing to paying visitors for the first time. This new offering allows guests to explore the rooms where royals gather for significant events such as coronations, weddings, and birthday parades. The Royal Collection Trust is expanding its guided tours to include access to the East Wing, featuring a hallway adorned with paintings by renowned artists like Thomas Gainsborough, a yellow drawing room embellished with Chinese porcelain, and the famous balcony where the royals make public appearances.

This initiative marks a slight shift towards increased public access to royal residences. It comes in response to the significant investment of 369 million pounds ($474 million) of taxpayer money in renovating Buckingham Palace, a palace that the royals do not use for residential purposes. King Charles III is reportedly keen on opening up the royal residences to the public as a means of showcasing how taxpayer funds are being utilized for refurbishments.

Nicola Turner Inman, a Royal Collection curator, emphasized the king’s commitment to transparency regarding the maintenance of royal properties. Joe Little, the managing editor of Majesty Magazine, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the financial aspect of opening up the residences to the public. The newfound accessibility to areas like the East Wing of Buckingham Palace and Balmoral Castle, another royal residence in Scotland, has been well-received by the public, with tickets for these tours selling out quickly.

While some critics argue that entry to Buckingham Palace should be free of charge given its status as a public building, others appreciate the opportunity to experience the splendor of these royal residences. The royal family owns several properties across the UK, including castles, palaces, and cottages, with some open to paid public access. The Crown Estate manages certain properties, with profits benefiting the state treasury.

The decision to open up Buckingham Palace and other royal residences reflects a gradual shift towards greater public engagement and commercial viability. As renovations continue at Buckingham Palace, questions remain about the future living arrangements of King Charles III, who has opted to remain at Clarence House with Queen Camilla instead of moving into the palace. This shift marks a departure from the traditions of previous monarchs but aligns with a more modern approach to the monarchy.