#Buckingham Palace is a must-see for everyone whether a Londoner or a tourist. Sadly the Royal Mews and the #Queen’s Gallery, which are part of the Palace should be included, but are often overlooked. As a Londoner, although I was aware of their existence, I had visited neither until this year. Both are part of the Royal Collection, and within the grounds of Buckingham Palace. A bonus is that they are open, subject to holidays and royal occasions, throughout the year.
John Nash who was responsible for remodeling Buckingham Palace was initially involved in the architectural drawings for the Royal Mews. In Georgian times, the mode of transport was by horse and carriage but it was only when Queen Victoria came to the throne that the Mews, as it is today, was built.
By each exhibit is a written explanation but even better are the free, guided tours. Visitors, with the use of a multi-media guide, can also wander around on their own. The majority of the carriages on display, which are maintained in pristine condition, are those once used by Queen Victoria, and still used today. On display too are some of the Royal cars.
Visitors can get a sensation of what it’s like to sit in a carriage in a replica of the semi-state landau, which has a roof that comes down. There are also smart red jackets to dress up in, ideal for a photo opportunity. On my visit I was also able to see the harness rooms, the stables, and a few of the thirty horses stabled there. Apparently, they can often be seen in the road going or coming back from Hyde Park where they take their exercise or attached to a landau transporting an Ambassador to an audience with the Queen. At the entrance to the Royal Mews, near the main road is the riding school which is used to accustom the horses and their riders to traffic noise, and is where the horses are trained to pull the carriages.
On Display at the Queen’s Gallery until November 12 are paintings, drawings and prints by Venice’s most famous view-painter, Canaletto (1697-1768). Visitors can get an idea of Venice in the eighteenth century as seen through Canaletto’s eyes. Key works are the Regatta on the Grand Canal held annually in February, and the Bacino di San Marco on Ascension Day; the Venetian Festival of the Wedding of the Sea. These works, along with the rest of Joseph Smith’s huge collection, were bought by the young George III in 1762 from Canaletto’s agent and dealer. Smith was British Consul in Venice, and one of the greatest patrons of Venetian art.
Canaletto always manipulated his painting as well as diversifying the subject matter. He was a prolific draughtsman, making hundreds of drawings of the city he saw around him. Encouraged by Smith he was also interested in the buildings of Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Canaletto’s work is shown alongside that of fellow artists of the 18th century. Of the 200 works on display 40 are by Canaletto.
Talks and school sessions are being held throughout the exhibition.
Even if you have already visited the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace there is for 2017 an exhibition of over 200 Royal Gifts from around the world that Her Majesty The Queen has received during her 65 year reign. This summer also marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and this is commemorated with a display in the Music Room of personal memorabilia including her desk from Kensington Palace.