The passing of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, marks the end of a remarkable reign. Her leadership began in 1952, making her the longest-reigning monarch in British history. To celebrate the life and legacy of this accomplished leader, the Today’s Homeowner team revisits the interior designs of her storied home throughout the decades.
Buckingham Palace from 1952 to Today
1953: A New Throne For a New Queen
The Throne Room was established as the setting for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation ceremony in 1953. One of the chairs sitting upon the Throne Room’s elevated flooring is embroidered “EIIR” for “Elizabeth II Regina,” which means queen in Latin.
The room includes a royal red and gold color scheme accented with off-white moldings and chandeliers. Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the Throne Room is the dramatic canopy hanging behind the thrones. Architect John Nash used inspiration from his past work on theater set designs to bring this iconic centerpiece to life.
1962: The Addition of the Queen’s Gallery
In the 1830s, three identical pavilions were added to Buckingham Palace to function as temples for the Royal Family. In 1842, Queen Victoria transformed one of the pavilions into a private temple, which was eventually destroyed in a 1940 air raid.
In 1962, Queen Elizabeth II decided to redesign the destroyed conservatory into a display gallery for the Royal Collection – a reserve of historic master paintings, furniture pieces, and artwork. For the next 35 years, this room, coined “The Queen’s Gallery,” was home to many exhibitions of royal items.
1997: Remodeling the Queen’s Gallery
In 1997, The Queen held a competition to appoint a new architect to remodel the Gallery. The competition preceded the Golden Jubilee of 2002, a celebration to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th year as Britain’s ruler.
The remodeling project involved expanding the gallery to improve its accessibility and create more space for special exhibitions. To modernize the iconic space, an architectural group, John Simpson & Partners, updated the gallery’s entryway and added state-of-the-art environmental controls to preserve its historic items.
Simpson & Partners remodeled the Gallery’s entrance with inspiration from John Nash’s original design – creating high walls decorated with friezes representing the Queen’s magnificent reign. The updated design for the main gallery included three display rooms for additional exhibit space.
The expansion of the Queen’s Galley was the largest renovation to the Palace in 150 years, costing the Royal Collection Trust the equivalent of 23,000,000 U.S. dollars.
2018: Buckingham Palace’s Major Renovation Programme
Just because it houses the Royal Family doesn’t mean Buckingham Palace is safe from maintenance needs. Around 2016, the Palace began showing signs of age that couldn’t be ignored.
The Buckingham Palace Reservicing Programme Summary Report from that year mentions that the building’s electrical, plumbing, and heating systems hadn’t been updated since the 1950s, leaving the infrastructure in dire need of replacements.
This report launched the start of the Palace’s largest remodeling project in history – one that will last a decade and cost over $500 USD million to complete.
The renovation project aims to make the following improvements by 2027:
- Replace Palace systems to eliminate the risk of fire and flood
- Initiate preservation projects to maintain the Palace for future generations
- Increase public accessibility to the Palace, with a focus on educational exhibits for students
- Improve energy efficiency by over 40%, including a plan to install solar photovoltaic panels atop the Palace’s roof
Here’s a 2022 Programme update from the Royal Family Channel on YouTube:
The Programme Summary Report from 2016 concludes with the following note:
“Buckingham Palace is one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious buildings. It is instantly recognizable across the world as one of the most iconic working palaces and as the home of The Queen.”
The Queen made a profound and indelible impact on her country, the world, and the place she called home. The Palace will undoubtedly continue to transform and change in the future while carrying on the legacy Queen Elizabeth II leaves behind.