London calling! Queen Elizabeth II is opening Buckingham Palace gardens to the public for summer picnics for the first time in history.
“This summer we’re opening Buckingham Palace garden for visitors to explore,” the Royal Collection Trust announced on Wednesday, April 7. “Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to picnic on the palace lawns.”
Buckingham Palace was previously open to the public for guided tours of the State Rooms, but was temporarily shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Beginning in May, the tours will kick off the summer season in England once again.
In an unprecedented move, Her Majesty is offering guided tours in April and May of the estate’s gardens, which is home to the queen’s garden parties and many royal events. Visitors may also enjoy a picnic on the grounds with views of the palace before or after they wander the surrounding area.
“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,” the Royal Collection Trust boasts on its website.
Fans of the royal family can book their tickets in advance and either purchase refreshments at a food stall set up within the walls of the residence or bring their own food to eat while taking in the sights.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, will also be reopening to the public on Monday, April 26. Windsor Castle, which is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, is set to open its doors again on Monday, May 17.
The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, The Clarence House, which is home to Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, and Frogmore Cottage, which is currently home to Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, are all closed until further notice.
Ahead of the royal residences reopening to the public, the queen, 94, and her eldest son, the Prince of Wales, 72, took an Easter walk at Frogmore Cottage on Saturday, April 3.
Buckingham Palace released two photos to mark the occasion, one of which showed the mother-son duo smiling ahead of the spring holiday. The second picture showed the pair wearing long coats and standing among the castle’s expansive gardens together.
The outing came amid drama within the royal family following Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with CBS last month. During the sit-down, the couple, who relocated to the U.S. in early 2020 after stepping back from their roles as senior royals, claimed that they faced racism in the U.K. and were not supported by The Firm.
“The queen has always had a soft spot for Harry and looked out for him, so [she] is incredibly hurt and shocked that it has come to this,” the insider said. “She’s trying to be understanding and see things from Harry’s perspective, but … the interview has wreaked havoc on the royal family.”