Picnic with the Queen at Buckingham Palace
Have you ever thought about having a picnic with the Queen of the UK? Back in April, I saw that Buckingham Palace was opening up its Garden to the public. In previous summers, they’d always open up the actual Palace to the public, but due to Covid this isn’t feasible anymore. Some marketing person, or maybe it’s the accountant, must have had this lightbulb moment and thought, why not open up the Gardens!!! Even the Royal family have to maintain their revenue source!!
英國白金漢宮 Buckingham Palace 是到倫敦旅遊人士其中一個必去的景點。它每年夏天都會開放給公眾， 而今年白金漢宮第一次開放後花園給公眾參觀。 四月份開賣票時，我第一時間上網購得入場券。等了幾個月終於在八月中可以去一睹英女皇後花園， 坐在草地上野餐。
I bought my tickets immediately and went to
meet up with the Queen at the Buckingham Palace Gardens for a picnic a few days ago. Ok, I didn’t really have picnic with the Queen, that was a click bait, but I did go to her home!!!
The Gardens are located at the back of the Palace, that’s why the Palace may not look familiar. The view we normally see is the front like this. Incidentally, Fakebook reminded me today that I went to Buckingham Palace exactly 8 years ago. That time I went inside the Palace.
My ticket for this Garden visit was 4pm as I couldn’t get an earlier slot. It wasn’t very busy at that time of the day so that was good. All the other people were having their picnic as well. I’m glad I bought some snacks with me. After all, one doesn’t go into the Royal gardens and not have a picnic with the Queen.
PICNIC WITH THE QUEEN IN THE ROYAL GARDENS
The gem of the visit is of course Buckingham Palace, albeit we only get to see the back. But then, that’s not a sight visitors normally get to see.
And as an added bonus, visitor can get really close to the Palace and have their picnic on the terrace. There are some tables and chairs here if one wants to sit a bit more comfortably than on the lawn. I wonder what rooms are on the other side of these windows?
There was a souvenir shop and a cafe on the grounds (of course, more revenue!!). I didn’t have time to wander into the souvenir shop as the Garden closes at 6pm, and anyway, these places are normally over priced. It was certainly true of the cafe. Tea, the nation’s favourite drink is £3. A normal cafe on the high street will charge you around half that price!!
England’s national flower is the rose, and apparently, there’s a magnificent Rose Garden on the premises. That’s not part of the public ticket, you have to pay extra to see it (more revenue opportunities). I got to see a little patch, which to be honest was rather disappointing given the price of the ticket. Oh, I forgot to mention, it cost £16.50 per person, that’s like US$22.50.
There was a lake on one side and that provided quite a nice secluded view of the palace.
The British weather can be very unpredictable, and it can be tough if you turn up on a bad day. There are a couple of large gazeboes on the grounds so visitors can still have their picnic, but I imagine it won’t be very nice sitting on the lawn if it’s raining.
And that’s all the Good about my visit to the Buckingham Palace Gardens. Yup! I kid you not!!!
And now for the bad.
The day before my visit, I decided to check out the online reviews. It’s a good thing I did, as that set my expectation for the day. Pretty much all the reviews I read were negative and were in line with my own experience. Where do I start….
A visit to the Buckingham Palace Garden isn’t really to the gardens. There were minimal flowers, just that little patch I showed you earlier on. My sister has more flowers than that in her garden. As a friend said, when I showed her a photo, “That’s not a garden. It’s a lawn!!”
The entire gardens at Buckingham Palace is 39 acres, yet the area open to the public at the standard £16.50 ticket can be seen in the above photo. Yes, that’s it!!! I reckon it would take no more than 10 minutes to walk around the perimeter of the lawn. The rest of the gardens is cordoned off and you have to pay extra to see the pretty parts. I’m not sure, but I think it’s about another £20. I strolled around everywhere I could, and that only took me around half an hour including videos and photos, and an encounter with a member of staff.
And that brings me to the next rant. Many online reviews said they felt like they were constantly being monitored by the staff. When I was taking a video of the tiny patch of roses, a member of staff approached me and asked if I had taken a photo of the side of the palace as that’s the Queen’s private apartment.
I told him I hadn’t, and asked why there weren’t clear instructions on the website on what visitors could and couldn’t do, especially if we weren’t allowed to photo a particular area. He said, in what I felt quite a patronising way, if they listed everything on the internet it would run into pages, and that’s why there are people like him advising visitors what they can and cannot do!!!!😡 There was definitely something wrong with the tone of his voice and his attitude!
And then on another occasion, I walked near the bank of the lake to get a better view. A member of staff standing about 6 or 7 meters away shouted at me to stay away from the bank. Ok, you can say he did that for my own safety but it didn’t sound like that. I’m not a little kid who might slip, and if it was that dangerous, they should have cordoned it off like they have for most of the other places. Either way, staff should not be shouting at visitors!!!
Overall, my experience wasn’t that great at the Palace Gardens, in fact, I’d rate it as bad. The price was ok, given it was Buckingham Palace, but it was terrible value just to picnic on a lawn. There are plenty of other beautiful parks in London that are free of charge, and I’m sure no one will shout at you. If you don’t make it to the Palace Gardens when you visit London, don’t worry, you’re not missing anything. And should you want to visit some of the Queen’s other homes, why not check out Sandringham House from my previous trip.
VIDEO OF MY TRIP TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE GARDENS
Check out my video below and you will get a better idea of my day out at Buckingham Palace gardens. It’s in Cantonese but has English subtitles. Enjoy!