The British monarchy's official residence and headquarters in London, Buckingham Palace, lies in the City of Westminster. It was built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and was acquired by King George III in 1761 to serve as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. Known at the time as Buckingham House, it was enlarged in the 19th century by architects John Nash and Edward Blore and became the British monarch's residence when Queen Victoria took to the throne in 1837.
Buckingham Palace is fronted by gilded railings and gates completed by the Bromsgrove Guild in 1911. It is a popular location to watch the guards' daily changing. Today the palace provides a weekday home for the Queen and Prince Phillip and the London residence of the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Buckingham Palace features 775 rooms, as well as boasting the largest private garden in London. Some official and staterooms are open to the public, with many original 19th-century interior designs. These include brightly colored scagliola and blue and pink lapis and furnishings in the Chinese regency style.
The Queen entertains foreign heads of state at Buckingham Palace, with most staying in the Belgian Suite that lies at the foot of the Minister’s Staircase. Knighthoods and awards usually occur in the Palace Ballroom, which is the largest room in the palace, as do formal state banquets. Smaller ceremonies and lunch parties usually occur in the 1844 Room, the State Dining Room, or the domed Music Room.
In addition to the iconic balcony where the royal family often greet crowds, Buckingham Palace is also home to the Queen’s Gallery, which exhibits changing displays of works of art from the Royal Collection. It occupies the site where the palace chapel once stood before it was destroyed during an air raid in World War II.