Buckingham Palace visitors to get chance to re-enact iconic Royal Family balcony moment... almost

Members of the public are getting their chance to have their own balcony moment at Buckingham Palace… almost.

For the first time ever the centre room behind the palace's famous balcony will open to groups of visitors.

Next week, ticket holders will have the opportunity to look around the room where the Royal Family gather on big occasions before stepping out to see the public.

But rather than being allowed out onto the balcony the doors will remain shut and they'll have the chance to look at the view down the Mall through the net curtains instead.

The tour of the East Wing is a new addition to the annual palace summer opening.

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Almost 6,000 tickets were made available but were sold out within hours of going on sale in April.

Caroline de Guitaut, surveyor of the King's works of art, said: "It was Prince Albert's idea to have a balcony at Buckingham Palace, because he saw it as a way of enabling the Royal Family to connect with the people, and of course that's exactly how, in a sense, it continues to be used on important occasions.

"But it began to be used very early on in Queen Victoria's reign, from 1851 waving off the troops to the Crimean War and welcoming them back on return."

The palace's East Wing was built between 1847 and 1849 to accommodate Queen Victoria's growing family, and the development enclosed the former open horse-shoe shaped royal residence.

For the past five years it's been undergoing refurbishment work. More than 3,500 pieces of art had to be removed and safely stored. Around 47,000 floorboards had to be removed and re-laid.

Guided tours of the East Wing will take visitors along much of the 240ft-long principal corridor, and include the yellow drawing room and centre room behind the balcony.

The yellow drawing room features an oriental-style fireplace from George IV's seaside pleasure palace - the Brighton Pavilion, an elaborate gilded curtain rail and even some of the pavilion's wallpaper that was discovered in storage by George V's wife, Queen Mary and hung at her request.

Highlights in the centre room include a newly restored glass chandelier, shaped to resemble a lotus flower, and two Chinese 18th-century imperial silk wall hangings, presented to Victoria by Guangxu, Emperor of China, to mark her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

While tickets for the East Wing tour are sold out, visitors with a standard ticket for the place's state rooms will be able to tour the 19 rooms used by the Royal Family for official entertaining.

In the ballroom, they can view artist Jonathan Yeo's new portrait of the King, with its striking red background.