Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. The Palace is a setting for state occasions and royal entertaining, a base for many officially visiting Heads of State, and a major tourist attraction.
It has been a rallying point for British people at times of national rejoicing, crisis or grief. “Buckingham Palace” or simply “The Palace” commonly refers to the source of Press statements issued by the offices of the Royal Household.
In the Middle Ages, Buckingham Palace’s site formed part of the Manor of Ebury. It had several royal owners from Edward the Confessor onwards and was also the object of much property speculation. (A loophole in the lease of Charles I allowed the area to revert back to royal hands in the 18th century.) Precursors of Buckingham Palace were Blake House, Goring House, and Arlington House.
Originally known as Buckingham House, the building forming the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and acquired by King George III in 1762 as a private residence. It was enlarged over the next 75 years, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.
The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the large east wing facing The Mall was added, and the former State entrance, Marble Arch, was removed to its present position near Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. The east front was refaced in Portland stone in 1913 as a backdrop to the Victoria Memorial, creating the present-day public face of Buckingham Palace, including the famous balcony.