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    Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace London, England
    Most likely the most famous and elegant building in the world, Buckingham Palace is the London home and main residence of the British monarchy, it is the location of many state affairs and royal hospitality; a focal point for the nation's people during difficult times and rejoicing. It had originally been called, Buckingham House, since it had been a huge townhouse constructed for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705 on land that had been in the family for a century and a half. In 1761, it would be acquired by King George III to be used as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, it would become known as the "queen's house". In the 19th century, it would be enlarged with designs by architects Edward Blore and John Nash, which would become three wings surrounding a central courtyard, and in 1837, it would become the official royal palace of the British monarchy when Queen Victoria ascended the throne. The last significant structural changes and additions would be made during the late 19th century and early 20th century, that included the East front that has the famous balcony where the royal family would traditionally greet the throngs of people outside. During WWII, the palace chapel would be destroyed by a German bomb, so the Queen's Gallery would replace it and open to the public in 1962 to showcase works of art from the Royal Collection. The magnificent interior contains many of the original 19th century designs, that included much usage of vibrantly colored scagliola, along with pink and blue lapis, being suggested by Sir Charles Long. Scagliola is a composite material that became popular in the 17th century, when it was used instead of expensive materials like marble for various architectural elements, and lapis lazuli is a rock, that has been formed with a mineral called lazurite and is a fairly rare semi-precious stone that has been valuable for centuries because of the beautiful blue colors and variations found in the stone. King Edward VII would oversee a redecoration on parts of the palace in belle epoque cream and gold color schemes, with smaller reception rooms furnished in Chinese regency style with fittings and furniture acquire from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and the Carlton House. The palace garden is the biggest private garden in the city. The state rooms that are used for state and official entertaining are opened each year in August and September for what is called the Palace's Summer Opening. The palace itself is often referred to as Buck House.

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    Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey London, England
    The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, better known as Westminster Abbey is a huge, mostly gothic style church, located in Westminster, London, England is located west of the Palace of Westminster, and has become the traditional site of the monarchy's coronation and burial site for English, then British and today, monarchs of the Commonwealth realms. The abbey is a royal peculiar and in 1546 until 1556, it would enjoy the status of a cathedral. A peculiar, or royal peculiar, is a place of worship that has been placed under the jurisdiction of the nation's monarch, rather than that of a bishop, and comes from the early Anglo-Saxon period, when churches would become associated with the monarchy instead of the bishop for that region. Eventually, it would reflect the relationship between the Plantagenet and Norman kings, and the English church; and unlike many other ecclesiastical foundation of that medieval period, these peculiars wouldn't be abolished when the English Reformation occurred. The abbey is now a collegiate church that is governed by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, that had been established by Queen Elizabeth's royal charter in 1560 that made it the Collegiate Church of St. Peter Westminster and a royal peculiar under the personal jurisdiction of the sovereign. The history of the abbey is a wonderful story, filled with adventure and intrigue, and enduring for centuries. It was constructed with stone from Caen, France, called caen stone, the Loire Valley area of France, called tuffeau limestone and from the Isle of Portland and called, Portland stone. It would be in the beautiful church that the first third of the King James Bible's old testament and the last half of the new testament was translated; but it would suffer some small damages in the Blitz of 1940. It was the site of Diana's funeral, the Princess of Wales, in 1997, and in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI would become the first pope to walk in the abbey. Beginning in 1066, with the coronations of King Harold and William the Conqueror, all further coronations would be done here, except in the early 13th century, when Henry III couldn't be crowned in London because it was under the control of the French prince, Louis. He would then be crowned in the Gloucester Cathedral, but the pope thought it "improper", so another coronation would be held in this abbey in 1220. The archbishop of Canterbury is the traditional cleric in the ceremony, with King Edward's chair, or St. Edward's chair, the throne where the English and British monarchs sit at the moment of coronation, is still contained in the abbey and has been used for every coronation since 1308. Beginning in 1301, and continuing until 1996, when it would be stolen for a time by Scottish nationalists, this magnificent chair houses the famous Stone of Scone, which the Kings of Scotland had been crowned over. This mysterious stone has a history all its own, and is believed by many to be the actual stone that Jacob used to sleep on when he was wandering the desert and had a vision from God. It is believed that the prophet Jeremiah would bring that stone, which weighs over 300 pounds, would bring that stone, and the last princess of the House of Judah, named Scota, to a faraway place that would become Scotland.

May 17, 2011