The Queen is opening up her Buckingham Palace garden for summer picnics

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4 min read
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives for a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London on May 31, 2018. (Photo by Yui Mok / POOL / AFP) (Photo by YUI MOK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen at a garden party at Buckingham Palace in London in May 2018. (Yui Mok/AFP)

The Queen is opening up the garden at Buckingham Palace for a once in a lifetime experience, as people will be able to picnic in the grounds for the first time.

The Royal Collection Trust, which manages the palaces, announced on Wednesday that the London home of the monarch will be reopening in the summer, after it was closed for most of last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike previous years, visitors will be able to bring their own picnics, as well as chairs and blankets, and enjoy the landscaped garden.

Usually food and drink isn't allowed in with visitors, and guests have to buy snacks or lunches from the garden cafe.

The RCT said the plans would offer "unprecedented freedom" for visitors in 2021, with "a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to picnic with views of the Palace".

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the gardens while they are there.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: A view of Buckingham Palace and Gardens the following day after Meghan & Harry's interview with Oprah on March 09, 2021 in London, England . (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Buckingham Palace and Gardens in March 2021. The main gardens will be open for picnics this summer. (Jo Hale/Getty Images)

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The RCT said: "You will be free to wander around the garden’s winding paths at your own pace and experience the beauty and calm of this walled oasis in central London. 

"Among the many features to discover are the 156-metre Herbaceous Border, the Horse Chestnut Avenue, the Plane trees planted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the famous lake with its island that is home to the Buckingham Palace bees." 

While visitors can take their own food and soft drink, alcoholic drinks are not allowed in the grounds.

Guests can bring small baskets, cool bags, foldable chairs and blankets, as well as personal or golfing sized umbrellas.

But there's a ban on glassware, sharp bladed knives and speakers. Guests can't bring barbecues either. 

There will be opportunities to get the perfect Instagram picture though, as cameras are allowed in the garden - but no photographs can be taken on a guided tour.

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As the government confirmed that non-essential shops will reopen on 12 April, the RCT confirmed its stores will be among those to welcome shoppers again on Monday.

In addition, on weekends in April and May, starting from 17 April, there will be guided tours of the Buckingham Palace garden, with tickets priced at £21.50 per adult.

Guided tours of Buckingham Palace will begin in May, with visitors welcomed back into the palace's State Rooms. From July, access to the garden will be included with the palace tour. Access to both will cost £60 per adult. 

Windsor Castle will also reopen to the public on 17 May. Picnics won't be allowed at this castle. 

Face coverings have to be worn when in indoor settings, but they don't have to be worn outside.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 15: Queen Elizabeth II attends a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 15, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen at a palace garden party in 2018. This year visitors can have a picnic in the grounds. (John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 16: (left to right) Catherine,  Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Beatrice at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 16, 2017 in London, England .(Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
Prince William and Kate with the Queen, Princess Anne, Prince Phillip and Princess Beatrice at a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2017. The parties are postponed until 2022. (Victoria Jones - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

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The Garden at Buckingham Palace will open from Friday, 9 July to Sunday, 19 September, 2021, and tickets cost £16.50 for adults. Garden Highlights Guided Tours should be booked with the main ticket and are priced at £6.50 for adults.

The Queen has been living at Windsor Castle for more than a year, with a brief excursion up to Scotland where she usually spends her summers.

She made her first in-person engagement outside of the castle walls this year when she paid a visit to Runnymede to go to a ceremony marking the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The Queen had to postpone her annual garden parties at Buckingham Palace for the second year in a row because of the pandemic, and it's not clear when she might go back to London full time.

She has also called off the large scale version of Trooping the Colour, which marks her official birthday each June, indicating there will be a smaller ceremony like last year's scaled back version.

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