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The Palace today

The history of the site where Buckingham Palace stands can be traced back to the reign of James I in the early 17th century. The building was transformed into a royal palace by George IV in the early 19th century. Read more about who built the Palace and who lived at the Palace.

How the Palace is used today

The Queen receives a large number of formal and informal visitors to the Palace. To be received by The Queen privately is to be granted an Audience. The Queen often receives members of the Privy Council, foreign and British Ambassadors and High Commissioners, bishops, senior officers of the Armed Services and the Civil Service.

Diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace

Diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace ©

Over 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as guests at occasions of all sizes. The Diplomatic Reception is the main diplomatic social event of the year in London and reflects The Queen’s importance in the country’s diplomatic relations. It is the largest reception held at Buckingham Palace and takes place annually in early December. Over 1,500 people are invited from around 130 countries, including members of the British government, past Prime Ministers, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and other public figures.

Members of the public who are awarded an honour in either the New Year's Honours List or The Queen's Birthday Honours List receive their award at a ceremony known as an Investiture. Around 25 Investitures are held each year which usually take place in the Ballroom.

The highpoint of royal entertaining at Buckingham Palace today is the State Banquet, given by The Queen in the Ballroom on the evening of the first day of a State Visit of a foreign Head of State to the United Kingdom. The Ballroom is specially decorated for the occasion with flowers from the royal gardens and plate and porcelain from the Royal Collection.