Detective Shaw’s London: Buckingham Palace

In the centre of the British capital, in the heart of the City of Westminster, surrounded on three sides by Buckingham Palace Gardens, Green Park and St James’s Park, we find the official residence of the sovereign of the United Kingdom: Buckingham Palace, also simply called The Palace.

Despite being a relatively young building, its de facto name is used to refer to the British monarchy itself.

The palace fulfils this role since 1837 and is also the administrative office of the monarch, King Charles III. It covers an area of 77,000 m2 and includes something like 775 rooms.
Just in front of it stands the Victoria Memorial, a huge sculpture depicting Queen Victoria on one side and angels on the other three, all surmounted by a statue of winged victory surrounded by two seated figures. Beyond this monument starts the long street called The Mall which connects the building to the Admiralty Arch, beyond which is Trafalgar Square.

Buckingham Palace is undoubtedly an important tourist destination for those visiting London. During the summer the State Rooms, which are 19, are open to the public.
It is possible to obtain more information on the visit of the State Rooms, of the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery on the website site of the Royal Collection, where you can also book tickets and find out about current exhibitions.

But a ceremony that particularly attracts tourists throughout the year is the changing of the guard, a real parade that takes place between the square in front of the palace and its internal courtyard.
The photo on the left was taken by me during one of these events in 2008, but you can see more in the official profile of the British Monarchy on Flickr, to realize how suggestive they can be.


The Palace, The Mall, Green Park and the Changing of the Guard also appear in “The Mentor”, in one of the posts on Mina’s blog, where our serial killer walks on the long street and finds herself in the crowd of tourists, while tailing Christopher Garnish. The sequence then continues and reaches its epilogue in Holloway.
Buckingham Palace is also very close to the former site of New Scotland Yard and St James’s Park Tube station, which, again in “The Mentor”, is the scene of a chase of Garnish himself by Eric Shaw and DI Miriam Leroux.

The whole area surrounding the palace includes other places of tourist interest, such as 10 Downing Street (home of the Prime Minister), the Houses of Parliament with its famous Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey and the Westminster Cathedral (the Catholic one; appearing in another book of mine, “The Isle of Gaia”, not available in English yet).

Contrary to what many believe, Buckingham Palace does not belong to the King, but it is a state asset, however the presence of the monarch is signalled by the waving of the royal standard (as in the photo that shows me in front of the palace in 2011 and in that of winged victory; it cannot be distinguished well because it is small, but I assure you that the flag that you see waving is actually the standard). In his absence, since 1997, this has been replaced by the flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Flag, which is flown at half-mast in the event of royal or national mourning.

In addition to every changing of the guard, which especially on Sundays attracts many people, the square in front of the palace was invaded by a much larger crowd during the Coronation of King Charles III on 6 May 2023, and previously during the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 (50 years of reign), the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (60 years of reign) and the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 (70 years of reign), celebrated a few months before her death.

Concerts were organized during these events, and some artists played on the roof of the building for the jubilees. Notably in 2002, Brian May, guitarist of Queen (the band, not Elizabeth!), played the UK national anthem from the rooftop God Save The Queen (lately changed into God Save The King), the song with which the British band usually concludes each of its concerts, accompanied by Roger Taylor and other musicians on stage in the square.

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