Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress draws record visitors to palace

Note: This article is from the Guardian.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress draws record visitors to palace” was written by Maev Kennedy, for The Guardian on Tuesday 4th October 2011 17.36 UTC

Royal wedding fever brought record numbers of visitors to the summer opening of Buckingham Palace. When the doors closed on Monday night, 600,000 people – an increase of almost 50% on the previous year – had queued for hours to see the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.

The numbers smashed the previous record of 420,000 visitors in 1994, the year Buckingham Palace first opened to the public to help pay for restoration work after the fire at Windsor Castle. The money – £18 a head for adults with many buying the £31.95 ticket covering the royal mews and Queen’s gallery – now goes towards maintaining the Royal Collection buildings and works of art. The palace was open for longer – 73 days rather than 67 – but extra timeslots had to be added to cope with the demand.

A display of the royal Fabergé collection had been intended to be the star attraction this year, but as soon as the wedding was announced and worldwide media hysteria broke out, it was clear what the real draw would be. In the event, visitors shuffled politely past Queen Alexandra’s sapphire-eyed model dormouse and King Edward’s jasper and gold Chelsea pensioner to give them plenty of time to study every intricate flounce and embroidery of the dress designed by Sarah Burtonof Alexander McQueen.

The special exhibitions for the summer opening are usually mounted in one of the more modest of the state rooms: the dress needed its own enormous dais in the centre of the vast ballroom while giant reproductions of wedding photographs of the family groups and the happy couple dominated the throne room.

The other royal palaces open to visitors also benefited from the effect: Windsor had 680,000 visitors between April and September, the highest number in five years, and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh 152,000.

“We’ve enjoyed welcoming visitors from all over the world to Buckingham Palace in record numbers this summer – it has been an incredibly busy few months and we’re delighted that it’s been such a huge success,” a spokeswoman for the Royal Collection said.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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