All The Changes The Queen Made To Buckingham Palace During Her Reign

As the center of British royal life, Buckingham Palace is full of rich history. The property was acquired by the royal family in 1761, though the original building was a smaller mansion that was generally used as an occasional home for the royals, according to The Royal Household. Over time, the building has been expanded, wings have been remodeled, and what was once a respectable mansion has now been turned into a remarkable palace.

Given her incredibly long reign and Buckingham Palace's extensive history of renovations, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Queen Elizabeth II has authorized a number of her own projects. Surprisingly though, beyond occasional small-scale maintenance, there have been relatively few changes to the Palace since Queen Elizabeth took the throne. Her Majesty has only spearheaded one major project: the addition of the Queen's Gallery, an exhibition space that showcases items from the Royal Collection (via Royal Collection Trust).

An exhibition fit for a Queen

Although the Royal Family has always been busy ruling the country, they also seem to have another passion: art curation. The family has been accumulating the Royal Collection for over 500 years, according to The Royal Collection, and it currently contains over 260,000 items, as told by The Royal Household. While items from the collection are found throughout the Royal Family's properties, the Queen's Gallery is a great space for the public to see some of the less commonly exhibited pieces. The displayed items constantly vary, allowing the public to see as many works as possible.

As one might expect, given the name, the Queen has quite a bit of influence over the Queen's Gallery. When it first opened, she hand-picked a number of details — including the exact color of fabric that would be draped along the walls (via Architecture Digest). While the Gallery has undergone a number of changes since then, it's still undoubtedly an impressive space.

The history of the Queen's Gallery

According to The Royal Collection, the space that would eventually become the Queen's Gallery initially began as a private conservatory that was built in 1831, though it would evolve several times before eventually becoming the Gallery. About a decade later, Queen Victoria turned the space into a private chapel — the longest-serving use of the space. Queen Victoria's chapel lasted about 100 years until it was destroyed in 1940 during a WWII air raid. The space was not repaired until 1962 when Queen Elizabeth finally suggested that it be turned into the Queen's Gallery.

As the Queen's Gallery has been around for 60 years, it has undergone its own changes. The Gallery was expanded just before the turn of the century to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, or 50th anniversary on the throne (via The Royal Collection). Of course, the artwork on display also rotates, providing even more variety to the space.