Almost 2,000 pupils have enjoyed special access to Buckingham Palace after doors were kept open exclusively for school groups during the very first Schools Week.
Between 25 and 29 September, as well as on Tuesdays throughout September, a total of 1,942 pupils came from across the country to enjoy Coronation-themed educational activities in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews, and The Queen’s Gallery, London.
With the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace now closed to the public until next summer, Royal Collection Trust welcomed up to six school groups a day to the Palace. These included home education groups and classes from schools for children with special educational needs, as well as faith, state and private schools. Pupils came from as far as Norfolk, Birmingham, and Staffordshire, as well as Kent, Berkshire, and Greater London.
The groups benefitted from having the visitor route to themselves to discover more about Coronations past and present through paintings from the Royal Collection and saw with their own eyes the robes and historic items used in the Coronation of Their Majesties – which formed part of this summer’s annual display.
The young people, aged between four and 18, also relished the chance to see the precious objects on display in the State Rooms, including the Throne Room, the Blue Drawing Room and the Music Room, as they participated in creative writing sessions. Outside, pupils took in the magnificent exteriors through landscape drawing and watercolour painting sessions.
Will Graham, Learning Manager at Royal Collection Trust, said:
‘Although school groups have visited Buckingham Palace for many years, we have never had the opportunity to have school pupils in on their own before, so having the State Rooms to themselves has been a real treat.
‘We were keen to give the kids a truly memorable and educational experience. It has been fantastic having so many children visit and be immersed in the rich history of Buckingham Palace.’
Sally Adams, teacher of Geography and History at Oak Lodge School for students with special needs in East Finchley, London, said:
‘The eyes of our students lit up seeing the colours, splendour and grandeur of Buckingham Palace. Nothing is as good for a student with special needs as “seeing it” and “doing it” for themselves! Can there be a more magnificent way to start the new school year?’
Marcel, 16, a pupil at Insights School and Skills Academy in Ealing, London, said:
‘I loved my experience at Buckingham Palace – it was such a privilege and honour to walk through the same halls as the Royal Family. It was very engaging and interesting, and I learnt plenty about the history of the monarchy and much more! I am so grateful.’
Throughout the year, Royal Collection Trust – the charity managing the public opening of the official royal residences – hosts educational visits in addition to offering schools free resources and sessions online. Royal Collection Trust also works with a range of community organisations to make the royal Palaces, Mews and Galleries accessible to as many people as possible.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, a total of 40,000 school pupils made a visit to one of the official royal residences and The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh or attended virtual sessions.