Buckingham Palace is located at the top of The Mall in the City of Westminster, and has serves as the Monarchs official residence and the administrative centre for the British monarchy. The palace is very much a working building and not a museum ore art gallery despite it being decorated with some of the finest works of art in the world today. Buckingham Palace acts as the setting for many state occasions and is the site of royal garden parties. Despite its working environment, the staterooms have been opened to the public.
Originally built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham as a townhouse, the building was much smaller than the Buckingham Palace that we can see today. It came into the hands of the monarchy when George III bought it in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use. At this point the house was renamed the Queen’s House. A year later, the building underwent some restoration and remodelling at a reported cost of £73,000.
On the accession of George IV, the king, who had a reputation for extreme extravagance, persuaded the government of the time to increase an agreed renovation budget from £150,000 to £450,000. The king appointed architect John Nash to oversee the work, and gave him the instructions to create a palace fit for a king. So the building was changed from albeit a grand home, to a royal palace. Nash demolished both the north and south wings to rebuild them on a grander scale and to increase the size of the courtyard. A grandiose arch was built as an entrance to the courtyard, but buy 1829 costs for the remodelling had soared to over £500,000 and with the work still not completed, Nash was removed from his position. Today all that remains of Nash’s design is a suite of state and semi state rooms that were added to the west-
George IV never actually occupied Buckingham Palace and it was not until 1837 when Victoria ascended to the throne that the building started to come into use again. Victoria soon discovered the impracticalities of moving into Buckingham Palace, the chimneys smoked so badly that they were all but useless, ventilation was also poor and rooms soon took on a musty smell. Despite the opulent interiors, there was a distinct lack of nursery facilities and bedrooms for guests. To solve these problems, architect Edmund Blore was brought in and an attick floor was added, plus a new wing which included the now famous balcony used by the Royal Family for public appearances.
The facade introduced by Blore was suffering badly due to the pollution that London was suffering from, so in 1913 it was replaced using Portland stone from a design by Sir Aston Webb, work which was completed just prior to the start of World War I. Later during World War II the palace suffered from bomb damage, the worst incident being in 1940 when the chapel received a direct hit, so necessitating the need for further restoration.