When people think of the British monarchy Buckingham Palace is one of the first things to come to mind. It is so associated with the British Monarch. While St. James Palace, just a stone’s throw down the Mall, is still the offical residence for the British Court, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence for the monarch and has been since 1837. The strange truth is despite being the monarchs official London home, not many members of the royal family have really ever cared for the place.
The House that was later to become Buckingham Palace was constructed in 1705 by John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby (1648-1721). At first it was not a palace, just a mansion known as Buckingham House. In 1761 King George III purchased the house for his wife as a private residence that, at the time, was some distance from central London. After Queen Charlotte moved in it became known as The Queen’s House.
In the early 19th century the future George IV hired architechs, John Nash and Edward Blore, to expand the House. They built wings branching out from the central house and created a courtyard. The expensive and elaborate expansion turned Buckingham House into Buckingham Palace. However, King George IV never lived there having died in 1830 prior to its completion.
King William IV, brother and successor to George IV, did not care for Buckingham Palace and tried on several occassions to give it to the government for their usage but they refused the offers. William IV never did live there, prefering to stay at either Windsor or Kensington Palace. It wasn’t until 1837 when William IV’s niece, Queen Victoria, became the first British monarch to make Buckingham Palce its home. In 1847 as the royal family had grown in size the front wing of the Palace was constructed, including the famous Balcony. This new wing took three years to be completed.
After the death of Prince Albert, The Prince Consort, Buckingham Palace was all but abandoned. Queen Victoria spent most of her time living in seculsion at either Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle or Osborne House as she had grown to loath Buckingham Palce. State or offical Banquets were still occasionally held at Buckingham Palace, often with the Prince of Wales presiding. The Prince of Wales lived down the Mall at Marlborough House.
Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901 at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. King Edward VII moved into Buckingham Palace and did some redecorating and renovation to bring the Palce into the 20th century. However it has been said that Edward VII much preffered his estates at Sandringham to Bucking ham Palce.
The same can be said of his son, George V, who always felt more at home at York Cottage on the Sandringham grounds while his wife preffered Marlborough House where she and her husband had lived while they were Prince and Princess of Wales. The exterior front wing of the Palace was remodeled in 1913 and has retained that look ever since. The current occupant of Buckingham Palce, Queen Elizabeth II, is said to preffer Windsor Castle over her London residence.
There has even been rumor and speculation that Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, may select Windsor Castle as his offical residence. Personally, this seems highly unlikely but one never does know. Royal residences have changed throughout the centuries. At one time The Tower of London was the official home of the English monarchs. Hampton Court and even Kensington Palce were also the official home of the monarch. St. James’s Palace was also the official home of the King of Great Britain for many years. Even though the Royal Family seems to prefer Windsor Castle, a future King Charles III will probably use Buckingham Palce as his main residence.
Buckingham Palace has become the central focus of the royal family. So despite that the royal family may not always come to love the palace as their home it does provide a practicle central location from which the people can view their monarch and share in the joys and the sorrows with the royal family.