LONDON — Starting next Sunday, visitors to Buckingham Palace will be able to stand in the room where royalty and heads of state have been entertained since the time of Queen Victoria.
With the opening of the sumptuous ballroom to tours for the first time, all 19 State Rooms in the London palace will be accessible to the public. Tourists flock to Buckingham during its short opening each year--eight weeks in August and September--to see the British royal family's home. The family traditionally vacations in Scotland in that period.
The ballroom, at more than 120 feet long, is the largest room in the palace. It was built in 1856 to celebrate Britain's victory over the Russians in the Crimean War. Since then it has been used for state banquets, diplomatic receptions and various ceremonies. A massive organ, installed when Queen Victoria moved to the palace, dominates the south end of the room.
Also new at Buckingham this year will be a photo exhibit on the life of the Queen Mother at the palace from 1937 to 1953, in honor of her 100th birthday on Aug. 4 this year.
The palace will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Aug. 6 to Oct. 1. Admission is about $17 for adults, $8 ages 5-16, free for children under 5. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office in London's Green Park or booked in advance by calling 011-44-20-7321-2233 or visiting the Internet site http://www.royalresidences.com/frBPalace.htm.