St. James’s Palace recently made headlines as the site of the ceremony where King Charles III. was officially proclaimed the new British sovereign. The day after Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8, 2022, Charles visited the Palace in Westminster, London, where the world watched as he became king.
Although St James’s Palace may have made headlines again in recent weeks, this property has retained its importance through the centuries. Known as “the oldest palace in the United Kingdom” – and one of the most powerful royal residences in the country.
Completed in 1536, the Tudor building has hosted a host of royalty over the centuries – including Anne, Princess Royal, who currently uses it as her London residence.
Does anyone live at St James Palace?
St. James’ Palace is the official London residence of Princess Anne, who she often visits when she is in the British capital for engagements. When she’s not in London, the Princess lives in Gatcombe Park, their country home near the village of Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire, England.
Like St James’ Palace, Gatcombe Park is one of the most royal estates in the UK (and one of the finest residences in the world) – stretching over 730 acres of south-west countryside.
Until the fall of 2017, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie shared an apartment at St James’ Palace. Little is known about the apartment’s floor plan and decorating ideas – but it is believed that her apartment was four stories high and had four bedrooms.
The State Apartments also host around 100 receptions each year. Most of the events are for charities associated with members of the senior royal family.
Did Henry VIII live at St James’s Palace?
After its completion in 1536 (on the site of a leper hospital), St James’s Palace became Henry VIII’s favorite residence during his marriage to Anne Boleyn. At the time, the palace was of minor importance under many Tudor and Stuart monarchs (after the Palace of Whitehall).
In more recent history (1941), the United Kingdom met with representatives of 13 other nations to sign the St James’s Palace Declaration. This was the first of six treaties that established the United Nations – and led to the drafting of the United Nations Charter.
Today, St James’s remains a working palace while serving as the London base for Princess Anne and Princess Alexandra, The Honorable Lady Ogilvy (a first cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II).
Can the public visit St James Palace?
Officially, St. James’s Palace is not open to the public. However, you can visit the Chapel Royal (opens in new tab) and Queen’s Chapel by attending a service on certain Sundays of the year.
You can also visit other royal residences including Windsor Castle, where the Prince and Princess of Wales will reside, and Kensington Palace – the former home of Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales.