Buckingham Palace and the White House are two of the world’s most famous and recognized buildings. But how do they both differ?
Buckingham Palace, the home of the British Monarch, is far bigger than the White House, the iconic residence of the President of the United States. The Palace has 775 rooms, while the White House has 132.
However, this is just one of at least 15 differences between the two.
In this post, I look closer at these two impressive buildings and their 15 key differences.
Buckingham Palace is the administrative headquarters and London residence of the British monarch.
It is a working palace and the focus of many royal and national celebrations, from entertaining foreign heads of state to celebrating achievements at receptions.
At Buckingham Palace, the monarch has a private weekly audience with the British Prime Minister to discuss government matters.
The White House
The White House is where the president of the United States and their family live and work.
But unlike Buckingham Palace, which is the permanent home of the monarchy, the White House is only a temporary residence while the President is in power.
However, although Buckingham Palace is older than the White House, no monarch lived there until 1837, whereas the first President to live at the White House was in 1800.
State dinners take place at the White House for foreign Heads of State, along with other social and cultural events to celebrate the achievements of others and long-standing traditions, like the Turkey Pardon.
Buckingham Palace is located in England in the City of Westminster in the center of the capital, London.
The Mall is the tree-lined road that leads up to the Palace, laid out like a red carpet and used for royal processions and celebrations.
The White House
The famous address of the White House is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in the capital city of the USA, Washington D.C.
Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the most important roads in the USA and is a major thoroughfare of Washington D.C.
You will find the street lined with government buildings between the Capitol and the White House.
Buckingham Palace serves as the British monarchy’s official residence, but St. James’s Palace originally served this role for around three hundred years.
In 1761, King George III acquired Buckingham House from the Duke of Buckingham, hence the name, for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their family.
After King George III’s death, his son George IV ascended the throne and decided to make Buckingham House the official royal residence.
He hired the architect, John Nash, to expand and renovate the building, but sacked him from the project for going over budget, costing British taxpayers 400,000 pounds.
After the death of George IV, his brother William IV ascended the throne, but he decided to stay at his princely home, Clarence House.
Following his death, his niece Victoria assumed the throne, becoming the first monarch to reside at Buckingham Palace, and introducing several innovations, including the iconic East Front and the Ballroom.
The White House
In 1791, the first U.S. President, George Washington, chose the site for the construction of the White House.
Irish-born architect James Hoban designed the structure, and after nearly eight years of building, President John Adams moved into the unfinished house with his wife, Abigail.
The British set fire to the house during the War of 1812, and James Hoban rebuilt the structure.
James Monroe’s administration saw South Portico’s construction in 1817, and later Andrew Jackson oversaw the construction of North Portico in 1829.
Under President Theodore Roosevelt, significant renovations took place in 1902, constructing what is now known as the West Wing.
It was President Roosevelt who named the building The White House.
George Washington remains the only U.S. president to never live in the White House.
The building of Buckingham Palace has a Neo-classical style inspired by Ancient Roman and Ancient Greece architecture.
The exterior is a Neoclassical French design made of Bath stone.
1911 saw the creation of the forecourt, gates, and railings.
While in 1913, Sir Aston Webb redesigned the East Front of the Palace using Portland stone, which includes the famous balcony where the Royal Family greets the crowds.
The White House
The inspiration for the design of the White House is from Roman Vitruvius architecture and Renaissance-era architect Andrea Palladio.
However, its main inspiration comes from the upper floors of Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland.
The White House is made entirely from Aquia Creek sandstone painted white instead of the traditional red brick used for most buildings.
1902 saw the President’s executive offices shifted to the newly constructed West Wing, with the Oval Office built as per instructions from then-President Theodore Roosevelt.
The White House faced severe structural problems during the 1950s due to the plague, prompting President Harry Truman to change the White House design.
This reconstruction involved dismantling everything apart from the exterior superstructure, but no other changes have occurred since this renovation.
Buckingham Palace is far bigger than the White House, covering over 830,000 square feet of floor space.
The White House covers only 55,000 square feet of floor space.
6. Number of Floors
Buckingham Palace has five floors, with most State Apartments located on the first floor in the west wing.
The ground floor features the Grand Entrance and Hall, along with the Grand Staircase to the south.
The monarch’s private apartments occupy the first floor of the north wing.
There are two elevators in Buckingham Palace.
The White House also has five floors, with the ground floor containing the Diplomatic Reception Room and the main kitchen.
The first floor is where the front door to the White House is and where you will find most of the public rooms like the State Dining Room plus the Entrance Hall and the Grand staircase.
The second floor is the First Family’s private living quarters, while the third has extra bedrooms, a solarium, and a games room.
There are eight staircases and three elevators in the White House.
7. Number of Rooms
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, while the White House has 132.
The rooms at Buckingham Palace include 92 offices, 188 staff bedrooms, 19 state rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, and 78 bathrooms.
The rooms at the White House include 16 family guest rooms, 35 bathrooms, and three kitchens.
The West Wing has several offices, the President’s official workplace, while the East Wing contains the offices of the First Lady.
This Youtube video gives an over of the size of Buckingham Palace, and what is hidden inside:
Around 800 staff live and work at Buckingham Palace in various roles, including private secretaries, media officers, and government liaison officers.
Other jobs range from catering to correspondence to housekeeping and horticulture.
There are also more unusual jobs, such as two full-time clockmakers (the Palace has around 350 clocks) and a fendersmith to hoist and lower the flag.
The West Wing houses the executive offices of the President at the White House, which has around 400 to 500 staff, while The East Wing, the office of the First Lady, has about eleven employees.
These staff members are replaced when a new administration takes over, whereas the household staff remain in place from one administration to another.
The household staff comprises around 100 employees: chefs, cooks, maids, butlers, housekeepers, doormen, plumbers, electricians, florists, and others, all managed by the chief usher.
9. Significant Rooms
Both Buckingham Palace and the White House have similar State Rooms, including Blue, Yellow and White rooms and a State Dining Room where they hold events and welcome dignitaries.
However, the two iconic buildings have significant rooms that differ.
The most important room in Buckingham Palace is the 1844 Room, so named because it received Russian Tsar Nicholas I as a guest that year and is where the monarch welcomes their most distinguished guests.
The Throne Room
In the center of the room are a pair of throne chairs known as Chairs of Estate and used for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation ceremony in 1953.
The Centre Room
The Centre Room opens up onto the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace.
The Picture Gallery
The Picture Gallery displays some of the Royal Collections’ greatest paintings, including works of art by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and Titian.
The White House
The Oval Office
The famous Oval Office is the official workspace of the U.S. President, with its distinctive oval shape and the Resolute Desk.
The Situation Room
The Situation Room is a 24-hour watch and alert center providing the President with intelligence and information on national security.
The Cabinet Room
The Cabinet Room is where officials and advisors to the President meet.
The sweeping, red-carpeted staircase at Buckingham Palace is an impressive double balustrade featuring a complex pattern of laurel leaves, acanthus, and oak, representing some of the finest bronze casting work.
Historical portraits of members of the Royal Family line this impressive staircase, with the stairs, lit by an etched glass dome in the ceiling.
The White House
The White House’s Grand Staircase is a wide return staircase that weaves down from the Yellow Room before stopping at two landings and descending into the Grand Entrance Hall.
A crystal chandelier hangs over the first landing, and the staircase features white and grey marble from Vermont, complex-designed wrought iron balusters and stair rails, and rich red carpeting.
Here’s a brilliant Youtube video about the White House and what the different floors and rooms are used for:
Buckingham Palace is like a small town having amenities that include:
- Indoor Swimming pool
- ATM machine
- Police station
- Movie theater
- Post Office
- Doctor’s office (equipped for surgical procedures)
- Staff cafeteria
- Gym with a personal trainer.
In the White House, you will find:
- Chocolate shop
- Flower shop
- Indoor swimming pool
- Game Room
- Workout room
- Music room
- Bowling alley
- Family theater
- Medical unit
- White House mess.
The Royal Guard protects the King at Buckingham Palace, with five regiments of foot guards undertaking this role.
In total, three officers and thirty-six soldiers guard the Palace at any time, but they only carry ammunition if there is a security threat.
Each guardsman has two hours of sentry duty and then 4 hours off.
The Palace uses only the best soldiers who have fought in conflicts.
The Secret Service provides protection at the White House.
Teams of snipers keep watch on the roof, and former presidents receive Secret Service protection for life.
The balcony at Buckingham Palace is the centerpiece for Royal Family appearances for most royal celebrations giving the public a chance to see them from the Mall.
President Truman installed a horseshoe-shaped balcony on the second floor giving the south face a modern facade.
Unlike Buckingham Palace, the balcony at the White House is for private use only.
13. Secret Tunnels
Rumour has it that Buckingham Palace has several secret tunnels that lead to Clarence House and the Houses of Parliament.
There is also one that leads from the King’s private apartment to the waiting room for guests, so the King doesn’t have to walk through all the Palace rooms.
The Presidential Emergency Operations Center is said to be underneath the East Wing at the White House.
This bunker-like structure serves as a secure shelter for the President and others in case of an emergency.
Another tunnel, built in 1941, leads to the Treasury Building.
If the King is in residence at Buckingham Palace, then the Royal Standard flag is flown.
The King is not there if the Union Jack flag flies at Buckingham Palace.
The United States flag flies permanently at the White House and is not removed or lowered when the President leaves the premises.
Over the years, Buckingham Palace has fallen into disrepair, and in March 2017, Parliament approved a ten-year maintenance work schedule.
The exterior of the White House needs repainting every four to six years using around 570 gallons of specialty German-made paint designed to preserve historic buildings.
It takes roughly 12 to 14 weeks to complete.
These iconic residences are both unique, with fascinating history and tradition, and well worth visiting.