Buckingham Palace will play an important role in this weekend’s coronation of King Charles III – not only as the location from which he and Queen Camilla will leave for the ceremony, but also for the famous balcony appearance.
Monarchs have only been living at the palace since 1837 when Queen Victoria moved in and it has been the official London residence of kings and queens ever since (although it should be noted that since becoming King, Charles has reportedly continued to reside at Clarence House and apparently intends continuing to do so following the coronation).
The palace has been in royal hands since 1761 when King George III bought what was then Buckingham House for the use of his wife Queen Charlotte, given, in particular, its proximity to St James’s Palace where court was held. Hence it become known as the Queen’s House.
King George IV intended using it the same way but in the 1820s had a change of heart and decided, with the aid of architect John Nash, to transform it into a palace. The ballooning work was unfinished when he died, and his successor and younger brother, King William IV, replaced Nash with Edward Blore to complete the work (thanks, apparently, to Nash’s budget blow-outs).
But William didn’t move into the property (in fact, he offered it up as a new home for parliament after much of the old Houses of Parliament were consumed by fire in 1834 – an offer which was not taken up).
Queen Victoria, however, decided to make it her home and she became the first monarch to leave the palace headed to a coronation when she did so in June, 1838.
Victoria also made the first balcony appearance by a monarch at the palace, doing so during celebrations to make the opening of the Great Exhibition in 1851.
But the first balcony appearance by a monarch immediately after their coronation was her son King Edward VII, who appeared on the balcony with his wife Queen Alexandra, to the joy of onlookers following his coronation on 9th August, 1901. Every monarch since has done so after their coronation (King Edward VIII, of course, never having had a coronation).
The King’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was the first monarch to watch a flypast on the balcony after her coronation, a tradition the King is expected to continue.
Buckingham Palace has also been the site of Coronation Banquets since the coronation of Queen Victoria (when it replaced Westminster Hall as the location). Queen Elizabeth held two Coronation Banquets in the palace following her coronation on 3rd and 4th June, each attended by 400 guests.
Few details have yet been released about King Charles III’s Coronation Banquet.