It’s hard to say which of the royal palaces of Europe is the best, but it’s easy to draw a conclusion from which ones had the largest role. This one house royal families that ruled the largest empire this world had ever seen. The size and architectural expression of the complex grew together with the power of the Empire and the royal family.
The official London residence of the British royal family had not been a palace from the start. It owes its name to Duke of Buckingham, who had built a classical English three story countryside mansion. The parts of this mansion can still be traced in the west wing of the palace.
King George III bought the mansion for his queen as a private retreat, but at some point he decided to transform it into a palace. Some of the architectural elements for the south and north wings were borrowed from the Carlton House (demolished), but the new palace was strongly influenced by the French Neoclassicism.
The palace hadn’t become the principal royal residence until Queen Victoria moved in, and new additions ensued. The front wing and the most recognizable part of the palace was built then, moving the marble arch, a previous entrance to the complex to the Hyde Park. This wing however, didn’t look exactly as it looks today. The sturdy academic classicism is aftermath of the early XX century remodeling, with addition of elaborate three story Corinthian pillars, rustication of the ground floor, pediments and attic instead of the roof sculptures.
The palace, known for the Queen’s guard changes, the royal processions, the change of Union Jacks for the Royal Standard has much more to offer. Layers of history and styles, modeled after the taste of the royals as they conquered and ruled make a fine context to some of the forces that made the western world what it is today.
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