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Buckingham Palace's East Wing opens for tours for the first time, and tickets sell out in a day

Buckingham Palace tour sells out fast
New Buckingham Palace tour sells out in a day 01:06

London — The room that opens onto Buckingham Palace's famous balcony, from which the royal family can be seen waving to the public below during major events, is opening to the public for tours for the first time this summer after a renovation.

Tour tickets, however, are no longer available. A limited number of "East Wing Highlights" summer tours that were offered this year sold out in one day. Standard adult tickets were priced at about $90 each, and they had to be purchased on top of the standard Buckingham Palace tour ticket, which costs about $50.  

Visitors to the Centre Room, which leads out to the famous balcony, in the palace's long closed-off East Wing will be able to see historic artifacts including 18th century imperial Silk wall hangings gifted by Emperor Guangxu of China to Queen Victoria to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. 

''This room was part of the edition of the East Wing, made by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It was Prince Albert who actually suggested the balcony," said Nicola Turner Inman, curator of decorative arts at Royal Collection Trust. "It was first used in 1851 for the waving off the troops for the Crimean War."

Trooping The Colour 2024
From left to right, Britain's Prince George of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Prince Louis of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Princess Charlotte of Wales, King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh and Lady Louise Windsor on the balcony during Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2024 in London, England. Chris Jackson/Getty

The Royal Collection noted that Prince Albert suggested the balcony be placed on the front of the palace as a way for the royals to be "visible and connect with the public."

People who join the tour will also walk past famous paintings as they make their way through the Principal Corridor, which leads to the Centre Room, and will see the recently restored 18th century Chinese hand-painted wallpaper in the Yellow Drawing Room.

''It's one of our charitable aims to make the collection more widely and publicly accessible. But it's also the wish of His Majesty the King, who is very much wanting to open up the Royal residences," Inman said. 

The East Wing is still used by the royal family for events and official meetings.

Buckingham Palace East Wing
Final preparations are made in the Yellow Drawing Room, where a member of Royal Collection Trust staff tends to the Kylin Clock, in the East Wing of Buckingham Palace, London, which is being opened to visitors for the first time this summer, July 8, 2024 Jonathan Brady/PA Images/Getty

Inman said renovations of the East Wing were part of a wider "reservicing project," a 10-year upgrade of the London palace's services and amenities.

"At the start of the work in the East Wing in 2018, over 3,500 works of art and other objects were removed to enable the work to take place," the Trust said.

It wasn't immediately clear when, or if, future dates for the East Wing tour would be made available. The Royal Collection Trust said it would first review the trial period.

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