The Palaces

We met at Green Park then headed out toward Buckingham Palace just in time for the changing of the guards! Now what I had assumed is that the changing of the guards happens hourly.  This is not so.  It apparently only happens officially once daily at 11am in front of Buckingham Palace.  People line up for hours on end (as early as 6 or 7am) to get a good spot to see all the action.  Our guide had a different plan for us… Basically he had us rush a spot (which basically meant elbow our way to the front for a few seconds) take the necessary picts then rush back to him for some stories, then we hauled across the lawn toward Prince Charles’ place to wait for the guards to come and walk right past us without any crowds at all:)  Clever guide…

The only bits I will share from this part of the tour are as follows: First, the original palace wasn’t at all Buckingham palace.  Buckingham palace was built as a private house by the Duke of Buckingham and it was called Buckingham House.  He was quite wealthy and didn’t blink twice about the cost of erecting his home of over 700 rooms…  The actual palace at the time was quite humble and petite compared to the Buckingham House… King George the III occupied the palace and though the history books say that Buckingham House was purchased by legal and proper means, our guide suggested basically that King George III wanted the place for himself, so he took it!  Subsequently the place became called Buckingham Palace.  Ok, well it went through another name change first- it was the Queen’s House after Buckingham House, then to Buckingham Palace.

Moving on, the second story is one of my favorites.  Apparently in the summer of 1982 an Irishman named Michael scaled the gates of Buckingham Palace… Or more correctly, around 5am a very drunk and disorderly Irishman named Michael scaled the gates… While the security alarms did go off to alert that something was very wrong, the security chief (new on the job after only 2 weeks) thought that surely there must be a mistake… a glitch in the system of sorts since there is NO WAY that at 5am someone would try to break in!  So instead of checking the alarm out, he simply had the staff shut the alarm OFF… So Michael scaled the wall and wandered inside the Palace.  Apparently there are signs all over the walls for staff (since it’s such a large place to navigate!!) and Michael, after his exhausting feat of climbing the Palace gate decided he needed a drink!!  Mind you, he was drunk already upon entering and police later even estimated he had been drinking for over 18 hours!!  So he followed the signs on the walls that led to the basement where they had the very best of ports and wines and whiskeys, etc, etc, etc…

After indulging in some more beverages, Michael eventually became hungry.  So he wandered back upstairs and followed the signs to the kitchen.  There he made himself a sandwich.  How he was never spotted by anyone is beyond me, but I guess it just shows how large the place really is!!  And it was quite early still… In any event, after his snack and booze he wandered out into the halls and saw signs for… the Queen’s Bedroom… He wandered into Queen Elizabeth II’s room and sat of the end of her bed.

The Queen woke to find a drunk, smelly, dirty and bloody Irishman on her bed.  The blood he got from scaling the gates, the drunk and smell and dirt was accumulated by his drinking, falling, and eating food sloppily… She miraculously kept her cool and simply greeted a good morning to the man.  He was apparently quite cordial to her and they started to have a pleasant chat (what else could you do I guess??).  During this chat, the Queen was hitting a secret button near her bed to alert security that she needed help.  However, if you recall from above, the security chief had the system turned off, so while she pushed the button, it wasn’t heard by anyone!!

After about 10-15 minutes of no one arriving, the Queen realized that something was not right.  But again she just calmly chatted with Michael and kept her cool.  She offered Michael a cigarette to which he accepted.  So the Queen picked up her phone and asked the reception to bring her a cigarette.  Thankfully the gentlemen on the reception line had some wits about him!!  He knew that the Queen does not smoke and that she would be asking for a cigarette was very strange behavior.  He called the police and had them enter the Queen’s room where they found and arrested Michael.

The best part about this is that Michael never saw more than a few days in jail.  This is so because in fact, up until this incident all royal property was considered public property.  So Michael was not trespassing!  He didn’t even really break and enter since nothing was broken and it was public domain!  He only got charged for drinking the ports and for stealing food from the kitchen, LOL!!!  The laws have obviously changed since then and it IS now considered trespassing if you try and get into the Palace without an invite…

On to Red Coats & Gentlemen’s Club

Back to London Walking Tour

Back to United Kingdom

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s