Commissioned by Henry VIII, this Tudor brick palace was the residence of kings and queens for more than 300 years; indeed, while all monarchs have actually lived at Buckingham Palace since Queen Victoria's day, it is still the official residence of the Sovereign. (Foreign ambassadors, for instance, are received by the "Court of St. James.") Today it contains various royal apartments and offices, including the working office of Prince Charles. It's not open to the public
but the surprisingly low-key Tudor exterior is well worth the short detour from the Mall to see. Friary Court out front is a splendid setting for Trooping the Colour, part of the Queen's official birthday celebrations. Everyone loves to take a snapshot of the scarlet-coated guardsman standing sentry outside the imposing Tudor gateway. Note that the Changing the Guard ceremony at St. James's Palace occurs only on days when the guard at Buckingham Palace is changed. If you're approaching from St. James Street, take a quick peek at the wonderfully old-looking Berry Bros. & Rudd wine store at No. 3, near the back entrance to the palace; it's been trading here continuously since 1698.