For the first time, Buckingham Palace will allow visitors past the royal guards on the Mall, to freely roam the grounds.
The Queen's official London residence is a familiar landmark, but few people have seen the 39 acre gardens which are behind the much photographed walls. However the Royal Collection Trust have announced it will be throwing open the gates to allow the public to see them "with unprecedented freedom this summer". Picnics are encouraged.
The private grounds of Queen Elizabeth II's London palace have been a green, royal retreat in the heart of the city since the reign of James I. It was part of a royal estate well before the original palace was built in 1710, and has seen all sorts of uses. It has hosted grand garden parties, conferring of knighthoods at the end of a sword, and even silkworm farming by the more eccentric royal occupants.
Yet, this is the first time the visitors are invited to roam the grounds, unchaperoned.
Today the "walled oasis in the middle of London" is host to a landscaped lake and 1000 trees and 156 metres of herbaceous border. Rare plants, imported from every corner of the world, planted and often named for the royal residents. Green-fingered Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were particularly prolific in lining the garden with exotic trees.
There's also space for the less botanically-minded monarchs. There are places for recreation and sport, such as the tennis court where King George VI played Fred Perry.
The royal household has decided, in line with the easing of coronavirus restrictions in England to open the grounds to the public, for self-guided tours.
Bookings for self-guided tours were opened on Wednesday 7 April, two days before the news of the death of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.
The site was quickly overwhelmed with interest, forcing the royal collection to close the bookings system.
"We will reopen sales as soon as possible, with a greater number of tickets available."
Since news of the Duke of Edinburgh's death mourners have been leaving floral tributes at the gates of Buckingham palace, in spontaneous acts of mourning for the late Prince.
The Palace and Royal Collection Trust asked the public not to leave flowers outside the gates, due to coronavirus and concerns over public gatherings. Instead the public have been asked instead to support the Prince's charities, such as the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.
In summer, with the easing of restrictions, there will be opportunity for visitors to pay their respects and visit the gardens in person.
For those still unable to visit, the Royal Collections will be broadcasting free guided tours of the palaces in England and Scotland, online. rct.uk