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16.09.2015- A Royal Welcome at Buckingham Palace

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to Buckingham Palace for a very special, curator-led tour of the special exhibition which is occupying the State Rooms this summer. A Royal Welcome focuses on the preparations and planning for the various visits which take place at the palace, from State Visits to Garden Parties, and recreates the opulent surroundings of a State Banquet in the Palace Ballroom. Buckingham Palace played host to 62,000 guests last year, so the opportunity to follow in their footsteps and explore what it's like to be a guest (rather than just a visitor!) was one which completely took my breath away...



The fantastic thing about this exhibition is that you follow the same path as the one which a guest visiting Buckingham Palace would take, from the main reception foyer to the incredible surroundings of the ballroom. As well as this, a series of objects and displays takes you through the painstaking process of planning a State Banquet in minute detail, from collating seating plans, to organising the menu and selecting the crockery! Throughout the tour, it was also fascinating to hear about the history of the objects which are used during the course of preparations for a State Banquet- including Edwardian wine decanters and copper cookery pans from the reign of Queen Victoria; museum quality pieces which still serve an active purpose today.

Looking behind the scenes at the process of dressing for a State Banquet was also really insightful, and seeing dresses created for the Queen by designers such as Angela Kelly, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies was lovely. Finally, the crowning glory (sorry!) of the exhibition is without a doubt the Palace Ballroom, which has been set up to recreate the traditional banquet layout. There was something really special about seeing the room configured as it's usually intended to be used, and again it was really interesting to hear about the mechanics of putting the occasion together so that everything is executed in perfect fashion- including having a traffic light system for the timing of putting plates down on the table!

A Royal Welcome continues at Buckingham Palace until 27th September, and now features some never before seen photographs issued to commemorate the Queen officially becoming the longest reining monarch in British history- congratulations ma'am!

Have you been to any interesting exhibitions recently?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

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