The State ApartmentsThis sequence of rooms was created for Charles II and Catherine of Braganza between 1675 and 1678 and reflects the baroque tastes of the times. They are always open to the public and display some of the greatest treasures of the Royal Collection.
- The King's Drawing Room:Paintings by Rubens and Van Dyke and a remarkable musical clock.
- The King's Bedchamber:Charles II never slept in this bed, used for the courtly ceremonies of levée and couchée - wakey wakeys and nighty nights before the King actually retired to a smaller room nearby.
- The King's Dressing Room: Some of the most important Northern Renaissance paintings in the Royal Collection, including Breughel's painting the Massacre of the Innocents and a wonderful portrait of a lady in green by Bronzino.
- The Queen's Drawing Room: Among the paintings look for the famous Portrait of Charles I in three positions by Van Dyke.
- The King's Dining Room: Created for Charles II's private entertaining, it is dark and masculine, covered in rococco decoration and wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
- The Queen's Ballroom: Among the collection of Van Dykes, look for the portrait of the five eldest children of Charles I, the King beheaded in 1649.
- St. George's Hall: Often used for state banquets, this room is 185 feet long and can hold a table that seats 160. The ceiling you see is a new hammerbeam roof, constructed of green oak after the 1992 fire using medieval carpentry methods. The shields are coats of arms of the Garter Knights. Look for the plain white ones - marking the Order of the Garter Knights disgraced by crime or treason.
- The Lantern Lobby: Formerly a private chapel, this is where it is believed the 1992 fire began. Today it is used to display gilded silver objects from the Royal Collection. A suit of Henry VIII's armor against a wall gives some idea of the old king's size. Walk around it to see the profile view.
The Semi-State ApartmentsThis sequence of ornate rooms was created to suit the extravagant tastes of George IV, creator of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. They are used by the Queen for formal and informal entertaining and are sometimes closed to the public.
The rooms were badly damaged in the 1992 fire but most of the contents, removed earlier during rewiring, survived. The glittering gilded ceilings are remarkable restorations. In some cases, elaborate parquet flooring that had been charred was saved by simply turning over the individual pieces of wood.