We went along to the official preview day for the summer opening of Buckingham Palace’s State Rooms to see this year’s special Coronation exhibition. 

Anyone who has ever stepped inside Buckingham Palace will understand just how spectacular it is.

This is why every summer, groups flock to the King’s official London residence to marvel at the grandeur of its State Rooms.

Whether it be the vivid shades of red in the Throne Room, or the glistening interiors of the White Drawing Room (which also includes a secret doorway to the private apartments of the palace), every inch of the tour is teeming with treasures. This year the palace is open from 14th July until 24th September.

Buckingham Palace, London

Source: Royal Collection Trust/© His Majesty King Charles III 2023

Curator Sally Goodsir makes final adjustments to the Queen’s Coronation dress next to the King’s Robe of Estate.

Even before making your way inside the palace’s official entrance and up the Grand Staircase, visitors can see the Diamond Jubilee State Coach, which escorted the King and Queen to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation.

Weighing in at more than 2.5 tonnes, the coach was designed to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday and is now a staple of royal events. Like everything on display throughout the visit, the detail is second to none - the crown atop the roof is even carved from timber from Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory.

The main event…

The Coronation outfits worn by their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla are the central highlight for guests this year. Staged in the Ballroom, which was used as a Coronation rehearsal space, are the two intricately designed ensembles which looked amazing on the big screens, but up-close show a more personal side to their characters. 

Buckingham Palace, London

Source: Royal Collection Trust/© His Majesty King Charles III 2023

See the intricate details of Queen Camilla’s dress up-close.

You will see silver and gold embroidered floral designs on the Queen’s dress, representing the couples’ affection for nature and the British countryside, intertwined with celebratory bunting. Visitors may also spot some more personal details amongst the intricate gold embroidery: the names of The Queen’s children and grandchildren as well as depictions of Bluebell and Beth, Her Majesty’s Jack Russell Terriers.

Also on display is the spectacular Coronation Necklace, which was originally made for Queen Victoria in 1858 and has been worn at every Coronation since 1902.

The King’s cream silk overshirt and Purple Coronation Tunic were created especially for the occasion by Turnbull & Asser and Ede and Ravenscroft respectively, inspired by similar items worn by King George V and King George VI at their Coronations.

Shown alongside these are His Majesty’s Royal Naval Trousers and the Star, Collar and Great George of the Order of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in the United Kingdom.

The King’s cream silk overshirt and Purple Coronation Tunic were created especially for the Coronation.

The jewelled Great George pendant is thought to have been made for George II and was worn for the Coronations of King George V and King George VI, while the Garter Star was a wedding gift to King George V from the Officers of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Naval Reserve.

Visitors can also take time to admire the beautifully embroidered Anointing Screen, which was used to shield His Majesty from view during the most sacred moment of the Coronation.

Its central design takes the form of a tree with 56 leaves, representing the 56 member countries of the Commonwealth, and the maroon, gold, blue and red colour scheme reflects the colours of the Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey. 

Buckingham Palace, London

Source: Royal Collection Trust/© His Majesty King Charles III 2023

The Anointing Screen and Throne Chairs used in the Coronation ceremony.

More highlights to look out for

Elsewhere, the Picture Gallery displays some of the greatest paintings in the Royal Collection and is worth spending time in to admire the works on display. Today it is the setting for receptions hosted by the monarch and members of the Royal Family to recognise achievement in a particular walk of life or sector in the community.

The Music Room is also a sight to behold. It’s huge windows overlook the palace’s gardens and the room itself has not been altered since its completion in 1831 - The King was even baptised here in water brought from the River Jordan. 

Following a slow walk through the State Rooms, the garden awaits downstairs to soak up the ambience of a truly magical day out over a cream tea (it felt most suitable!). Be sure to also take a peek at the room on the right-hand side of the Bow Drawing Room on your way outside. Known as the 1844 room (because in the year 1844, the space received its grandest guest, the Russian Tsar Nicholas I), it is to this day one of the most important rooms in the palace.

The Music Room is also a sight to behold. Its huge windows overlook the palace’s gardens

In fact, it’s hard to comprehend that the spaces you’re able to explore freely with the help of an audio guide, are the very spaces that the monarch today, and have been used to greet the world’s most powerful and important people.

Each year the palace seems to out-do itself with its vast displays from the Royal Collection, but of all the years to take your group for a royal day out, this is certainly the most fitting and historic of times to do so.

Groups of 15 or more receive discounted admission to Buckingham Palace and can also organise combination tickets for a Garden Highlights Tour. For more information, go to www.rct.uk/visit/buckingham-palace