This Is Who Lived In Buckingham Palace Before The Royal Family Bought It

Current British monarchs aside, most recent British kings and queens have called Buckingham Palace their home, but that hasn't always been the case. In the millennium or so that the British monarchy has existed, Buckingham Palace in London has only been the official royal residence for a short time — just a few hundred years , in fact, or the blink of an eye by royal standards. Nor did the British royal family even build the original structure, later remodeled and expanded to the palace we know today.

If the original building that's now Buckingham Palace wasn't constructed by the British royal family and only became their full-time home around 1837, who built it, and who were the first occupants? While the property itself has connections to British royalty dating back centuries — to at least King James I's reign in the early 17th century, according to the Royal Collection Trust — there's a clue to those early occupants in the name. Then known as Buckingham House, John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham, purchased the property in 1698 and completed what is now Buckingham Palace in 1705.

Until 1837, the official British royal residence was St. James' Palace

From around 1530 to the mid-19th century, the official royal residence was St. James Palace. Before Buckingham House — and the structures that existed there prior to that point — were built, the first British royal to have an interest in the property near the River Tyburn was William the Conqueror in the 11th century, in what is now the London Borough of Westminster. The land was also owned for a time by the order of monks that occupied Westminster Abbey (via History).

Prior to John Sheffield's construction of Buckingham House, there was a large structure on the site of Buckingham Palace since at least 1628, occupied by a number of different people, according to historical records. While Buckingham Palace still belonged to the British royal family as of 2023, Parade reports that Britain's new king, King Charles III and Queen Camilla, won't live there, but in another royal property — Clarence House — instead. King Charles III will still use Buckingham as his administrative headquarters, per The Royal Family.

Buckingham Palace was once called 'the queen's house'

From the time that John Sheffield, the Duke of Buckingham, built what was then called Buckingham House, successive dukes of Buckingham lived there until around 1762, when King George III acquired it. Early on, King George III intended the property as a full-time residence for his wife Queen Charlotte, and fittingly, Buckingham House was called "The Queen's House." George III's successor, his son George IV, then expanded Buckingham Palace to something more like what exists today.

That work was continued by George IV's successor, William IV, and the home was even briefly offered as a home base for the British parliament when the House of Parliament burned down in 1834. (British MPs said thanks, but no thanks.) It wasn't until Queen Victoria took the throne that Buckingham Palace became the official royal residence. The structure has undergone a number of expansions and remodels since then. Now with hundreds of rooms for different purposes and nearly 80 bathrooms, Buckingham Palace is now ... well, fit for royalty.

The most recent Buckingham Palace renovations took place in 2021, to the tune of around $500 million, according to CNN. In 2023, it was reported that the new King Charles III had barred Prince Andrew — his disgraced brother with alleged connections to the late financier pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — from keeping an office there or from using Buckingham Palace as his address, according to Vanity Fair.