Buckingham Palace is so more than simply the place where the Queen lives every day, and where most Royal functions are held. It's one of the UK's biggest tourist attractions — everyone wants a glimpse at the Palace and what's inside. From the iconic bobby guards to the massive, lush grounds to the gilded, luxurious interior, it's not just a Royal residence — it's basically a national treasure.
However, even though regular folks have access to some parts of the Palace, you can't exactly go touring through the entirety of it — which means there are plenty of secrets and mysteries to discover. Thankfully, with a staff as large as it has, and a world so curious about everything related to the Royals, a few tidbits of information have slipped out over the years that give us a hint at just how insanely luxe Buckingham Palace is. It's hilarious to think that, to someone like Prince George, it isn't a national landmark — it's just grandma's house.
Here are 16 Buckingham Palace secrets that are hard to believe — keep them in mind for the next time you're chatting about what the Royals are up to or the next time you spot the Palace as a quick shot in a movie or television show set in London.
16 There are a whopping 775 rooms, including over 200 bedrooms
Okay, you obviously know that Buckingham Palace is big — just look at the size of the structure — but do you have a clue exactly how big? Within the Palace, there are a whopping 775 rooms, including over 200 bedrooms. That's right — 200 bedrooms. We're not sure about the exact size of every Royal residence around the world, but we have a feeling that this is probably one of the biggest, if not the absolute biggest. The Royal family have no shortage of properties and wealth to buy properties with, but if anything were to ever happen, the entire Royal family, along with their extended family and friends, could easily fit in the Palace — and could likely have all have rooms to themselves. I mean, that's a lot of rooms — no wonder they need so much cleaning staff!
15 There are rumours that it's haunted by various ghosts
Any structure that is hundreds of years old is bound to have a ghost or two, right? Well, that's allegedly the case at Buckingham Palace. In fact, there are two alleged ghosts — although one has been more extensively documented. Before the Palace was built, and before the structure that came before it was built, there was allegedly a monastery on the grounds, and there's apparently a ghost monk who used to live there. And more recently, there's an office on the first floor that is allegedly haunted by Major John Gwynne, who was the private secretary of King Edward VII. After a scandal ravaged his personal life, Gwynne shot himself in the office — and staff working at Buckingham Palace have apparently heard the sound of a single gunshot coming from that office in later years. Spooky!
14 There are 78 bathrooms — so you'll never have to wait in line
Okay, remember how we said there were 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace — well, in addition to the handful of reception rooms and the mass of bedrooms, there are a whopping 78 bathrooms within the Palace. That's a lot of toilets to clean! So, you can guarantee that there will basically never be a line-up for the bathroom during any kind of Royal function, no matter how large the event is — they can always just open up one of the other bathrooms if necessary. We can't help but wonder what they all look like, whether the Royals have kept the decor fairly minimal and uniform, or whether each bathroom is an entirely different experience. And, does the Queen use a variety of them as she goes about her day, or does she always go back to her own? So many questions.
13 The Queen's corgis have access to explore anywhere, anytime
They may just be dogs, but let's face it — the Queen's corgis are basically members of the Royal family. They travel with her all the time, and she obviously deeply cares for them. However, you have no idea just how luxe their lives are. In his book Not In Front Of The Corgis, Brian Hoey dished all about the lives those dogs led, and it's pretty crazy. In addition to being served restaurant quality food by the kitchen staff, the corgis are essentially given a free pass to roam wherever in Buckingham Palace they wish. There are even a few cleaning tools sprinkled throughout the Palace to deal with any messes, should a wandering corgi not make it outside in time to relieve himself. Just imagine walking down an empty hallway at Buckingham Palace and suddenly bumping into an energetic little corgi — it seems like a magical place.
12 There's an underground tunnel system that connects the palace to Clarence House and the House of Parliament
The rumours that there's a tunnel connecting Buckingham Palace to the London Tube are just rumours, but that doesn't mean there are zero tunnels from the Palace. In fact, there's an underground tunnel system that connects Buckingham Palace to Clarence House as well as the House of Parliament. It's likely put in place for emergencies, but we can't help but wonder if any of the members of the Royal family just enjoyed the secretive nature of the tunnels and hanging out down there for fun. I mean, why on earth would you drive to the House of Parliament when you could just scamper down your own private tunnel? It may be a measure implemented for security, but the opportunities for amusement are endless, and we have to hope that at least some Royal family members or staffers have taken advantage of the unique quirk of the property.
11 There's an ATM in the basement that prints money for the royal family
If you're a member of the Royal family and you need some cash, you don't need to head out to the bank to pick it up — you don't even need to send a staffer to procure it for you. All you have to do is head downstairs to the basement of Buckingham Palace, where there is an ATM placed for exclusive use by the Royal family. Just think of it this way — if she needs cash, the Queen heads down to the basement of her home and prints out stacks of cash with her face on it. Bizarre, no? Although, it does seem majorly convenient — imagine not having to line up in a bank queue whenever you need to get some cash fro something, and just heading to another part of your house to pick it up!
10 Cleaning the huge chandeliers isn't as tough as you may think — they can be lowered via remote control
Once upon a time, the Royal family had to employ a large staff whose sole jobs were to light all the candles on the chandeliers — this is in a time before electricity, obviously. While technology has made a lot of things regarding the upkeep of Buckingham Palace easier nowadays, there's one that is probably the most life-changing of them all — the chandeliers. Not only do the staff not have to waste hours and hours lighting candles anymore, they also don't have to risk their lives by teetering on ladders attempting to dust the many huge chandeliers in Buckingham Palace. They just press a simple button and the chandeliers lower down to a manageable level, via remote control, and can easily be dusted. Talk about convenient! There are many parts of Buckingham Palace that remain untouched by time, but a little technology never hurt anyone.
9 There's a doctor's office, fully equipped for surgical procedures
In addition to taking care of any postage you need at Buckingham Palace, you can apparently take care of any surgical procedure as well — at least, in emergency situations. When a medical issue arises, such as when the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth, members of the Royal family are often transported to a hospital and cared for by the best doctors in the nation. However, Buckingham Palace does have a full doctor's office that is equipped for surgical procedures, so if there were ever an emergency where a member of the Royal family needed surgery and for whatever reason wasn't able to make it to a hospital, they'd be able to receive treatment right on the premises. The staff would simply have to procure a doctor somehow. Hey, safety first, right?
8 There's a river that flows underneath parts of the palace
There are plenty of secrets and little known facts about things within the walls of Buckingham Palace, but what about what's underneath the property itself? Namely, a river. Buckingham Palace was built on boggy swampland way back in the day, and while you may not be able to tell that now thanks to the perfectly manicured grounds and city surrounding it, there are still traces of its natural history — the River Tyburn actually flows under the south wing of the Palace. And no, we don't mean that the south wing is floating on a literal river, that would be insane — but it does go underneath the Palace, which is a pretty unique detail for any property. It just goes to show that sometimes you can't eradicate nature — you have to simply embrace it and learn to live with it.
7 The 39 acre garden is the largest private garden in all of London
It may be tough to fathom just how large the gardens at Buckingham Palace are, but let's just put them into context for you — the Palace Gardens are actually the largest private garden in all of London, stretching across 39 acres. Particularly in London, where real estate is insanely expensive and any kind of private green space is virtually unheard of, that's a pretty shocking detail. I mean, you could fit entire London neighbourhoods within the Palace grounds — perhaps even multiple neighbourhoods combined! No wonder the public is so obsessed with Buckingham Palace — it's basically a world of its own, a Royal oasis, planted right in the middle of bustling London. We just hope that the Queen gets a ton of enjoyment out of those gardens, because the upkeep alone is probably exorbitantly expensive.
6 The gardens have 25 different varieties of roses — talk about a tribute to the English Rose!
The horticulturalists tending the Royal gardens at Buckingham Palace could likely make just about any plant or flower grow. After all, that's their entire job, and we have a feeling money is no object — the gardens could easily be filled with exotic species from faraway lands. However, they've taken a bit of a different tactic by focusing on the simple rose, an iconic flower. There are, in fact, 25 different varieties of roses you can check out within the Buckingham Palace gardens, which is pretty amazing. And apt, considering that the rose is England's national flower — no wonder the Queen has tasked her team with tending the rose garden so carefully! There are only certain times of the year when the public is permitted to tour the gardens, but they're a sight to behold — so if you ever get the chance, don't hesitate.
5 The wine vaults are the oldest part of the palace
Buckingham Palace didn't just spring up, fully formed and ready to house the Royal family. The house existing on the property at the time was bought, and the Royal family slowly transformed it into the glorious property it is today. However, there are a few reminders of its earlier time — namely, the wine vaults. Now, when you entertain as much as the Royal family does, having a proper place to store all that expensive wine is a must — but luckily, the Royal family didn't have to add in any wine cellars. The wine vaults are actually one of the earliest additions to the property, having been built back in the early 1700s before the Royals purchased the property. They've even been renovating the vaults as of late to make them more energy efficient — talk about keeping up with the times and staying green!
4 The Palace was hit nine times during the war, and the Palace Chapel was destroyed in 1940
When war hits a nation, no one is immune — not even the Royal family. During World War II, when the blitz hit London, Buckingham Palace was just another stop on the German bombers' list. In fact, the Palace itself was hit a whopping 9 times, although the damage was minimal. The spot that succumbed to the bombing was the Palace Chapel, which was essentially destroyed in 1940. The scary thing is, certain members of the Royal family were in the chapel just hours before the bombing took place that destroyed the structure, which means there likely could have been an even larger tragedy on the Royal family's hands. It just goes to prove that, no matter how iconic a building is, or what the national or religious significance is, nothing is safe from the ravages of war.
3 The Palace has its own post office — and staff are allowed to use it
It's understandable that the Queen would never actually send her own mail at a regular post office — after all, she's the Queen, and the type of correspondence she sends is likely quite private. But she doesn't even have to worry about sending out a staff member to discretely deal with anything that must be mailed out — she can just send them to the Buckingham Palace post office. That's right — the Palace literally has its own post office, and staff are also able to use it. Talk about convenient! It just goes to show that Buckingham Palace isn't merely a residence where the Queen sleeps — it's basically a miniature city of its own, where you can get virtually any service you may need. I mean, there are entire villages could likely fit within the Buckingham Palace grounds, so it makes sense.
2 It was originally a three-story block house, purchased in 1761 for 21,000 pounds (then completely transformed, obviously)
Buckingham Palace didn't simply go from a plot of bare land to a huge Palace — there were a few stages along the way. It would never be on the market today, no matter how much a buyer wanted to pay for it, but back in the early 1700s it was — and the Royal family purchased the property for about 21,000 pounds. However, it wasn't quite a palace then — it was a more modest three-story block house. Then, with the vast grounds at their disposal, they slowly began adding room after room to the structure, expanding it and creating the immense and incredible property that stands today. London built up around it, and now, it's an absolute landmark that tourists around the world come to see. Not bad for an initial investment of only 21,000 pounds!
1 It is the only building in the UK that literally has its own zip code (SW1A 1AAA, if you're curious)
It seems that the answer to the question of how big Buckingham Palace is quite simple — big enough to have its own zip code, apparently. That's right — when the Royal family is at Buckingham Palace, they don't have to worry about remembering a zip code — they just have to remember the Palace's own code. Given that zip codes are assigned to specific neighbourhoods, it just goes to prove how massive Buckingham Palace truly is. Plus, come on — how many people can say the property they live in literally has its own zip code? Pretty much just the Queen, it seems. Buckingham Palace truly is an immensely unique property with so many fascinating quirks and historical tidbits — no wonder so many people are obsessed with learning everything there is to know about it!
Sources: londonist.com, eonline.com, housebeautiful.com