Note: In preparation for the Jubilee events next week (more on those later!), let’s continue on our tour of Buckingham Palace, courtesy of Baguette Royal Warrant!
You’ve seen this space many times – during investitures, state dinners, performances, and as an exhibition space – but did you know that the room was first used as a ballroom on May 8, 1856? Prior to that, grand balls were held in the Throne Room.
The Ballroom has a long history of changes after that point, but it all started with the reign of Queen Victoria. She was the first monarch to live full-time in Buckingham Palace and remodeled it extensively to suit her large family and state requirements.
Below is a painting of the second ball held in the Ballroom in 1856.
The throne canopy was created by request from Queen Mary in 1916. The heavy gold-embroidered velvet hangings were salvaged from the Imperial Canopy, or Shamiana, made for King George V and Queen Mary’s Delhi Durbar of 1911.
This is King Edward VII’s throne from his coronation. The scrolling Indian embroidery behind the throne is the only remnant of the Imperial Shamiana from the Delhi Durbar of 1911.
In 2009, the influence of India returned to the ballroom when it was put to use for the performance by Nutkhu. This London-based dance company performed “Bollywood Steps” for members of the royal family.
The Ball Supper Room is adjacent to the Ballroom and can accommodate overflow during events, and often serves as a place where items from the Ballroom are stowed. Below is the room’s Grecian Plasterwork. This is an awfully impressive storage room.
The organ is originally from King George IV’s Royal Pavilion, Brighton. It was built in 1818. It’s directly across from the throne canopy.
A full-length view of the Ballroom. On the walls are Gobelins tapestries that were originally purchased in 1825 for Windsor.
During Investitures, the guests of the individuals receiving the honours from The Queen as ‘Fount of Honour’ are seated on the upholstered side benches.
The Ballroom has been re-configured to host exhibitions, such as the 2009 Commonwealth Exhibition, which included gifts and clothing worn on Commonwealth tours. It also famously housed the wedding dress of then-Kate Middleton. The Queen was not impressed with the staging of the dress, and ostensibly said it was “creepy”.
The Cross Gallery, previously known as the Approach Gallery, connects the West and East Galleries and has great decorative paintings and panels. This is also space for stacked dining chairs originally made for King George IV’s Carlton House, and now used for Ballroom seating.
Of course, the Ballroom is best known as the room in which State Dinners are conducted, and many famous diplomats and politicians have been hosted here.
Hope you enjoyed the tour of one of the most well-known rooms in Buckingham Palace.