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The Queen’s residence of Buckingham Palace is a pretty secretive place. After all, it’s guarded by highly trained members of the military who carry bayoneted rifles. Basically, you’re not getting inside the actual royal quarters there unless you have a very good reason. Nonetheless, over the years some fascinating facts have come out about life inside those walls.

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40. The royal collection

Unsurprisingly, the British royal family own a lot of art pieces. Apparently, they have 7,000 paintings and 450,000 photos, plus sculptures, literature, weaponry, carriages – virtually anything you can name. An area of Buckingham Palace called the Queen’s Gallery hosts some of these artworks, and the public can go in to see them.

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39. The State Dining Room

If you’re lucky enough to ever eat at Buckingham Palace, you’re in luck. Not only will you dine among luxury, but virtually any food you could wish for is available for your pleasure. The Queen herself reportedly keeps Special K and Tabasco sauce in her larders. She also has a steady supply of fancy chocolate and nuts kept for her.

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38. Royal nanny

It probably goes without saying that the royal family have hired a lot of nannies over the years. The nanny for the Cambridge children is a woman called Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. She was hired by Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2014. This photo shows her holding a cheeky Prince George inside Buckingham Palace.

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37. Palace ghost

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A building as old as Buckingham Palace surely couldn’t not be haunted. More to the point, there’s a story of one suicide in the palace. This was Major John Gwynne, the private secretary to King Edward VIII. After causing a scandal by divorcing his wife, he ended up shooting himself inside his office. Now, rumor has it that a ghostly gunshot can still be heard echoing from that room.

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36. The most important room

The most honored guests at the palace – people like President Obama and Angelina Jolie – are entertained in a special place called the 1844 Room, which can be reset for both audiences and meals. It’s known by this name because the royals received Tsar Nicholas I there in 1844. And it’s positively luxurious in every way.

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35. The royal clocks

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You’ll never need to wear a watch or look at a smartphone if you’re invited to Buckingham Palace. There are clocks everywhere. There are, in fact, at least 350 of them. And it falls to one person – the horological conservator – to maintain them all and make sure every last one displays the correct time.

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34. King George’s parrot

A slightly unusual animal once lived at Buckingham Palace – King George V’s pet parrot Charlotte. He was utterly devoted to the bird. She would sit near him at dinner, pecking at seeds while everybody else ate their meal. And even while the king attended to official business, she would sometimes sit on his shoulder.

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33. The secret ATM

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Not many people know that there’s an ATM hidden in the basement of Buckingham Palace, but there is. Members of the royal family – but nobody else – can go down there and pick up cash from the ATM whenever they need some. All of it, of course, has the Queen’s face on it.

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32. Fans breaking in

In 1965 the members of the Beatles all picked up MBEs from Buckingham Palace. At the time, it was the height of Beatlemania, and fans of the band even tried climbing the gates to get a glimpse of them. But they wouldn’t have gotten far. Not only do guardsmen patrol the area around the palace, the Metropolitan Police are also on hand.

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31. Royal communications

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There’s an official website for the royal family, and naturally the palace staff have emails like everyone else. But Buckingham Palace also has its very own post office. Which makes a lot of sense – you wouldn’t expect the Queen to go queue with sensitive letters in a regular facility. Oh, and the staff are also allowed to utilize the in-house postal services.

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30. Impressive royal gardens

The Buckingham Palace gardens are, of course, utterly beautiful. But something people might not know is that it’s host to over 25 different varieties of Britain’s national flower, the rose. One is even named after Prince William! The people who grow the multitudes of roses are the palace’s live-in gardeners, who work to keep the gardens to the highest possible standard.

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29. Christmas at the palace

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The way the royal family celebrates Christmas isn’t quite what you would expect. The Queen and her relatives reportedly give each other gag gifts – and the more ridiculous, the better. Apparently, in 2013 Prince Harry got his grandmother a shower cap with “Ain’t life a b****” on it. Another year, Meghan Markle is said to have gotten her a musical hamster toy.

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28. The famous balcony

If you want to spot a royal, they tend to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony for special occasions such as weddings. That balcony’s been around for a long time. It was built by Queen Victoria during her reign, specifically for the purpose of greeting the public. The first time it was used, it was to wave goodbye to Crimean War soldiers.

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27. The palace zip code

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Visitors to Buckingham Palace probably wouldn’t ever have difficulty finding the place. Not only is it obviously a world-famous historical landmark, it’s also so big that it actually has its own zip code. Its designation is SW1A 1AAA. And houses within the SW1 postal code are considered some of the swankiest in London.

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26. Ghosts of the distant past

Long before Buckingham Palace was built, an old story goes, there was a monastery on the grounds – and one of the monks is still there to this day. According to some, this monk was imprisoned in a cell for some crime and passed away behind bars. Now, he supposedly pops up at night sometimes, wearing a cowl and rattling a ghostly chain.

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25. The underwear thief

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One fascinating story about Buckingham Palace involves a teenager called Edward Jones. Back in 1838 – when security at the palace was far from what it is now – he developed a habit of sneaking in and eventually made off with some pairs of Queen Victoria’s underwear. The incident caused enough outcry to get new guards employed.

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24. The Queen’s private rooms

There are a lot of rooms in Buckingham Palace, and naturally the Queen has her choice of any of them. But according to people who have worked within the residence, the monarch actually only uses six rooms in the entire place. These are apparently her bathroom, dressing room, bedroom, sitting room, a waiting room and the Audience Room.

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23. The hidden river

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Buckingham Palace has its secrets, but perhaps the one of the most interesting is the hidden River Tyburn that flows beneath it. This waterway goes under the palace courtyard and its south wing. However, it’s considered to be more of a sewer these days, so perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Buckingham Palace has a secret sewer.

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22. The palace chandeliers

In many photographs of the Buckingham Palace interior, you can see a chandelier. There are so many of them, so you might wonder how on earth they stay lit and maintained? Well, in the olden days, King George IV kept a staff of 30 workers purely for the sake of chandelier-lighting. Nowadays, however, things are a little different. Remote controls can lower the chandeliers down towards the ground.

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21. The Grand Staircase

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It only makes sense that a place such as Buckingham Palace would have something called the Grand Staircase within it. It’s among the first thing people see when entering the palace. The beautiful creation is made from marble, covered in red carpet, and as guests climb the stairs, they see portraits of royals from times past.

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20. Hidden items in the ground

In 2006, as part of her 80th birthday celebrations, the Queen opened up the Buckingham Palace gardens to the archeology TV show Time Team. It was called “the Big Royal Dig.” The archeologists found some interesting things, including a Mesolithic blade, a pipe made of clay, and a diamond earring from Queen Victoria’s era.

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19. Disaster response

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This picture shows the Queen hosting a Emergency Services & Disaster Response Reception, but she herself has had to use those services before. In 2002 a fire broke out at Buckingham Palace, apparently starting in a disused toilet. Nobody was hurt, but it was surely a sobering thought that all that history could have been wiped out in a matter of hours if things had really gone wrong.

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18. A throne room

Buckingham Palace naturally has a throne room – but it’s not really used for its original purpose. Inside, there are monogrammed chairs for both Queen Elizabeth and her spouse Prince Philip. However, the Queen only ever actually sat on her throne in 1953, on the day of her coronation. Now the throne room is used simply to host special events at the palace.

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17. 3D technology

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Buckingham Palace does embrace new ideas. After all, Prince Albert introduced heating and lighting to the palace in the 19th century – and at the time those were exciting things. So, in 2012 it was agreed that the Queen would deliver her Christmas speech in 3D with the help of Sky. It wasn’t well received. Newspaper The Guardian said it was “squarely in the realm of gimmick.”

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16. Royal toilets

It’s not a thing to speak about in polite conversation with a royal, but obviously Buckingham Palace has bathrooms. And it has a lot of them, in fact. Apparently, the total number of bathrooms in the palace is 78, which means that it’s unlikely that the Queen – or, indeed, any staff member – will be caught short.

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15. The Golden Jubilee Concert

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For her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Queen opened up the grounds of Buckingham Palace for a concert. It was advertised as one of the biggest gigs Britain would ever see, and interest was intense. Winners of a lottery were allowed inside the palace gardens, but at least a million more gathered outside. And Brian May played “God Save The Queen” from the roof.

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14. The Chinese Luncheon Room

Inside Buckingham Palace is a room once called the Chinese Luncheon Room. It’s packed full of furniture taken from the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, most of it done in a “Chinoiserie” manner. This is a Western form inspired by Chinese styles. This room has a new name now – it’s referred to as, simply, the Centre Room.

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13. Strange palace gifts

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Some pretty odd things have been sent to Buckingham Palace as gifts over the years. These include a grasshopper-shaped wine cooler, a bed for dogs in the shape of a crown, and a figurine of her son Charles standing with kids’ character Postman Pat. In 2017 the palace held an exhibition of some of the most noteworthy gifts.

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12. Buckingham Palace births

Both Prince Charles and Prince Andrew were born within the walls of Buckingham Palace. Charles was born after 30 hours of labor, and Prince Philip wasn’t present – he was off playing squash somewhere else. When Prince Andrew was born in 1960, he was baptized in the palace’s Music Room like his brother had been.

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11. Fossils in the walls

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Buckingham Palace was built using something called Oolitic limestone, but nobody knew back then what properties the rock had. In 2017 it transpired that the limestone was formed over millions of years around the bodies of microorganisms. That meant that there were miniature fossils packed into the walls of the palace.

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10. Royal banquet

At Buckingham Palace, banquets are a big deal. In fact, they can be apparently planned out at least a year in advance by the Master of the Household and their staff. Thousands of glass and silver pieces have to be carefully polished, every dish is prepared from scratch, and the Queen gets final say over the smallest of details.

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9. Lying in state

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A royal funeral isn’t quite like a regular one. When a king or queen passes away, their body lies in state so people can come and pay their respects. King Edward VII passed away on May 6, 1910, and his body was kept at Buckingham Palace until May 17. Reportedly, this was partly because his widow adamantly refused to let him be moved.

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8. Garden party sandwiches

Each year, the Queen hosts around three garden get-togethers, and guests can come in and experience the Buckingham Palace grounds. Some of the luckier ones might even get to talk the Queen or another royal. And they’ll all get fed. According to the British Monarchist Foundation, 20,000 sandwiches are eaten during the course of a single event.

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7. Alleged secret tunnels

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It’s long been rumored that beneath Buckingham Palace there exists a secret system of tunnels. Some say that they’re linked to the Houses of Parliament, others say they connect to Clarence House. But it seems that if anyone knows for certain, they’re not sharing it with the media. It’s a claim that remains unconfirmed but plausible.

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6. Buckingham Palace surgery

Royals don’t necessarily have to go to hospital if they don’t want to. There just so happens to be a fully operational surgery within the palace walls. All that’s needed is for a doctor to arrive. This was what happened when King George battled cancer in 1951. Surgeons attended to him inside the palace, so news of his ill health wouldn’t get out.

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5. Very important dogs

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The Queen’s pets are apparently treated with the utmost respect, and that means they have virtually free run of Buckingham Palace. Guests visiting the palace can expect to see adorable little dogs wherever they might go. And in case any of the animals have accidents, there is cleaning equipment strategically hidden around the palace.

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4. Buckingham Palace in the war

Britain was hit hard during World War II, and Buckingham Palace wasn’t spared. In fact, its royal residents were lucky to escape with their lives. The palace was hit on nine occasions, with one bomb completely leveling the Palace Chapel building. Just a few hours prior to that, members of the royal family had been inside it.

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3. The royal intruder

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In 1982 there was a dramatic failing in Buckingham Palace’s security. An intruder named Michael Fagan made it into Buckingham Palace and found his way to the Queen’s room. The story goes that the Queen stalled the unwelcome guest by talking to him, but Fagan himself claims she instantly ran off. Though no-one was hurt, it was an incredibly embarrassing incident for the guards.

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2. The sheer amount of rooms

Buckingham Palace is massive and lots of people sleep there. To be exact, the palace contains 52 bedrooms for royals and their guests, and 188 bedrooms for the staff. Oh, and there’s a cafeteria, a cinema, and a pool. If the Queen didn’t live there, it would make a great luxury hotel.

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1. The hidden door

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Believe it or not, Buckingham Palace has a real, Hogwarts-style hidden passage within its walls. In the White Drawing Room – created by John Nash back in 1899 – there’s a secret door behind one of the massive mirrors which leads to the Queen’s quarters. The ornaments around it are glued down so they won’t fall off when the door opens. Imagine what it would be like to go in there…

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