THEN AND NOW: Vintage photos of Buckingham Palace and what it looks like today

Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Dominic Lipinski/AFP/Getty ImagesThe State Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, then and now.

Buckingham Palace is the British monarchy’s administrative headquarters, but it’s not your typical office.

The palace has a total of 775 rooms, including 19 State Rooms, 52 bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. Parts of it open to the public for tours in the summer as well as for a limited time during December, January, and Easter. It also hosts various events, galas, and award ceremonies throughout the year.

Since it became a royal residence in 1762, much of the decor at Buckingham Palace has been remodeled, while some rooms remain as opulent as ever in their original states.

Here’s how Buckingham Palace has changed over the years.


Crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace in 1945 to catch a glimpse of the royal family.

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth, and Princess Margaret waved from the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1945.


After Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011, there was barely room to move outside of the palace.

People still pack themselves in at the palace gates today.


Queen Elizabeth greeted members of the public from the palace balcony after her coronation in 1953.

She was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


The balcony is still a popular spot for royals to gaze upon their subjects.

Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesThe royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2018.

They stand on the balcony for Trooping the Colour every year.


Buckingham Palace has hosted many US presidents over the years, including the Kennedys in 1961.

Photoquest/Getty ImagesThe Kennedys at Buckingham Palace in 1961.

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy posed with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at a banquet at Buckingham Palace in 1961.


The Obamas also paid the Queen a visit.

Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons/Public DomainMichelle and Barack Obama greet Queen Elizabeth.

Michelle Obama wrote in her memoir “Becoming” that when she met Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 2009, she accidentally committed “what would be deemed as an epic faux pas” and touched the Queen.

“If I hadn’t done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing,” she wrote. “I daresay the Queen was ok with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back.”


Prince Charles and Princess Diana posed in the Throne Room on their wedding day in 1981.

Princess Diana’s wedding shoes contained a hidden message.


Their son Prince William also posed for wedding photos with Kate Middleton in 2011.

The couple first met in college at St. Andrews University in Scotland.


The ceiling in the White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace was designed by John Nash.

The Print Collector/Getty ImagesThe White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace pictured in 1901.

Nash redesigned much of Buckingham Palace in the 1800s.


While some of the furniture has been swapped out, much of the room’s original decor remains.

Xinhua/Han Yan via Getty ImagesThe White Drawing Room today.

There’s a hidden door disguised as a mirror and cabinet where the Queen enters to greet guests.


World leaders convened in the Blue Drawing Room in 1977.

Buckingham Palace hosted world leaders during the Downing Street Summit in 1977.


The wallpaper has faded a bit, but the Blue Drawing Room is still blue and still hosts important dignitaries.

Queen Elizabeth hosted a dinner attended by Theresa May during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018 and entertained guests in the Blue Drawing Room.


Commonwealth leaders sat for a photo in the White Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace in 1977.

Leaders from Canada, Cyprus, Australia, India, and New Zealand were in attendance.


The room was also used for Queen Elizabeth to record the first-ever 3D Christmas message in 2012.

The message was also celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.


The State Dining Room contains portraits of George III, Queen Charlotte, and the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland.

Often used to accommodate large groups, the State Dining Room hosts luncheons, dinners, and other gatherings.


The Dining Room was cleared out in preparation for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding reception.

The State Dining Room was designed by Sir James Pennethorne and built by Thomas Cubitt, according to the Royal Collection Trust.


Queen Elizabeth holds three garden parties at Buckingham Palace every summer.

Guests are nominated and recognised for their public service at the parties.


The Queen moves through different lanes of the crowd to speak to as many people as possible.

The Queen continues to greet guests in the Royal Tea Tent.


Louis Haghe painted this watercolor painting of the State Ballroom in 1856.

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesA painting of the State Ballroom in Buckingham Palace in 1856.

The painting shows the second ball to have taken place in the new ballroom designed bySir James Pennethorne, according to the Royal Collection Trust. Before that, balls were held in the Throne Room.


The State Ballroom hosts the occasional banquet today.

Queen Elizabeth hosted a State Banquet in honour of King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain’s visit in 2017.


Queen Mary picked out the wallpaper in the Yellow Drawing Room after World War I.

Print Collector/Getty ImagesThe Yellow Drawing Room in 1939.

Many of the room’s decorations, including the chandelier, are from the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, according to the Royal Collection Trust.


The Yellow Drawing Room often serves as the setting for portraits of the Queen and other royals.

Fiona Hanson/WPA Pool/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth in the Yellow Drawing Room in 2004.

The Queen recorded her annual Christmas Day message in the Yellow Drawing Room in 2004.


Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret used to do schoolwork and crafts in the palace’s school room.

Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth (right) and Princess Margaret in the school room in 1940.

Queen Elizabeth (then a princess) and Princess Margaret painted in the school room of Buckingham Palace when they were little.


The Queen now welcomes visiting students to Buckingham Palace.

Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth with schoolchildren in Buckingham Palace.

Students from St. Edward’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Westminster met the Queen in the Education Room at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.


The Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace was designed by John Nash to display works from the royal family’s extensive art collection.

Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty ImagesThe Picture Gallery, pictured circa 1963.

The entire ceiling was replaced in 1915.


Now pink instead of blue, the gallery is open to visitors and the paintings are swapped out regularly.

Tim Graham/Getty ImagesThe Picture Gallery’s colour scheme changed from blue to pink.

Tickets to the gallery are available as part of State Room tours through the Royal Collection Trust.

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