“God save our gracious Queen
long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen.” —– national anthem of the UK
After witnessing the Changing of the Guard the other day, we decided to go inside Buckingham Palace on Thursday. We opted for the whole shebang — the Queen’s gallery, the Royal Mews, and the Palace itself.
First they sent us to the gallery, with two special exhibits. One featured the entimologist Maria Merien’s paintings of butterflies and such. The other displayed the works of Scottish artists. With all due respect to her Majesty, this was a crashing bore. We exited as soon as it was polite to do so.
On to the Royal Mews, a working stable and the home to all the Royal vehicles. Way more fun than the stuffy gallery. The coaches are straight out of Cinderella, laden in glistening gold, especially the Gold State Coach, used at every coronation since 1821. God Save the Queen, of course, but when will we see another coronation? Hers was in 1953, and Elizabeth, now 90, has reigned longer than any other Royal. When the day comes for a new monarch, and I’m glued to the TV watching all of the pomp, I’ll recall seeing this dazzling coach up close.
When the Queen is summering in the countryside, the Palace opens its doors so her subjects and we tourists can get a look inside. A special exhibit called “Fashioning a Reign” displayed outfits from the Queen’s childhood to the present, including her exquisite wedding gown and coronation dress. Closetloads of suits, dresses, and evening wear chronicle what the Queen wore for many occasions, including her yellow dress as the grandmother of the Groom. The hats filled several display cases. Greens, periwinkle, purple, lemon — No one would accuse the Queen of wearing drab colors. Delightful to see. But just where were her famous handbags? Maybe they’re being saved for a future exhibit.
The State Rooms are spectacular, as expected, gilded ceilings, glittering crystal chandeliers, and all. The audioguide explained the architectural details and described the fancy-shmancy occasions when dignitaries are feted by the Queen. In one room, though, where guests are received, I noticed a few smudges on two gold brocade sofas. Huh? Did someone spill a glass of wine? Did little George wipe his sticky fingers on Great-Grandma’s upholstery? I guess it’s nice to know that even Royalty has stains on the furniture once in a while. Wonder if they’ve ever used Wine-Away to dissolve those spots?