Buckingham Palace, the London home of the Royal family, was repeatedly targeted during the Blitz and damaged by both high explosives and firebombs. Early indicators suggested that the Luftwaffe might have targeted Buckingham Palace. A 50-kilogram bomb that dropped on the Palace grounds on September 8th fortunately did not explode and was later destroyed in a controlled explosion.

Plan of Buckingham Palace.

User:Giano - Wikipedia

The Luftwaffe Strikes

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were relaxing and enjoying some tea on the morning of the 13th when they heard a crash and a rumble. Five high explosive bombs had been detonated on the Palace by A single German raider, purportedly a Heinkel HE111.

The South Wing's Royal Chapel was struck by two of these, the inner quadrangle by a third, and the forecourt and the road between the Palace gates and the Victoria Memorial by the final two (one delayed-action). Most of the windows on the southern and western sides of the quadrangle were blown out, and the explosions in the quadrangle burst a water main.

The Royal Chapel's interior was damaged. Four employees were hurt; one later passed away. In the halls of the Palace, some portraits were harmed.

Bomb damage at Buckingham Palace

© IWM 


In a letter, Queen Elizabeth recounted hearing a bomb scream and the "unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane."

Thankfully, no harm came to the King or Queen during the incident. Queen Elizabeth later said, "I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East-End in the face'.

The following day, the RAF intercepted and downed the Heinkel bomber that had carried out the strike.

The delayed-action bomb that was between the forecourt gates and the Victoria Memorial finally went off at 8:40 a.m. the next morning, ending the incident. The explosion severely damaged much of the forecourt fencing around the south gate and produced a crater that was 30' by 20' and 10' deep, despite the fact that rescue teams had plenty of time to construct six-foot-high sandbag walls around the device.

A 500-kilogram delayed action explosive detonated the following day on the Northwest Terrace of the Palace. Trying to dig it out took up most of the day for Second Lieutenant G Pringle.

The swimming pool was destroyed, the windows were broken, and a large crater was left in the grass when it exploded at 1.30 am. Home Guard Platoon Commander Thomas Williams removed another unexploded bomb from one of the Palace's restrooms and hid it beneath a tree on the lawn.

September 1940: A crater and damaged railings outside Buckingham Palace, London, after the explosion of a German bomb dropped in an air raid the previous day.

Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The King reportedly spoke with Corporal Victor Le Maitre, one of the men who removed "a time bomb" from the Palace, according to a report in the Dundee Courier, asking if If he had volunteered to help with bomb disposal.

While the bombing undoubtedly shocked King George and Queen Elizabeth, it would later improve the Royal Family's standing in the eyes of the British public. 

The Foreign Office recommended the King and Queen to leave the nation immediately for their own safety, particularly as it was clear the Luftwaffe could strike again.

However, their unwavering defiance in the face of this threat demonstrated guts and a dedication to the United Kingdom that the public admired.

'The children won't leave unless I do', the Queen declared in a speech to the country. 'I shall not leave unless their father does, and the King will not leave the country in any circumstances, whatever'

Map showing bomb strikes (represented by red dots) on Buckingham Palace.


The Palace gardens and the Regency bathroom facing the West Terrace were both bombed on September 15. When the Battle of Britain and the beginning of the Blitz were commemorated in a ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral on September 15, 2010, HRH Prince Charles told the press that his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, recalled how a solitary unexploded bomb was taken out of Buckingham Palace on a stretcher.

On September 17, two days later, another bomb was dropped just before 11 a.m. near the Royal Apartments inside the Buckingham Garden Gate, creating a crater but not detonating upon impact. Investigators rapidly determined that a delayed-action UXB was present. The harm was not severe if left alone. Around 7 o'clock, it finally exploded, leaving Grosvenor Place largely littered with broken glass.

The King and Queen examining bomb damage in the grounds of Buckingham Palace after a Luftwaffe raid, 1940. 

A high explosive bomb detonated on November 1 in the vicinity of the Palace's western facade, destroying windows and a bedroom on the ground level. The nearby Royal Mews also sustained damage.

A single high explosive bomb launched by a Luftwaffe plane over the Palace on March 8, 1941, struck the North Lodge and largely destroyed it. One police officer died. A short while afterwards, a second wave of German planes bombed the forecourt with heavy explosives. Although it was first unclear how many had struck, neither the Palace's physical structure nor its utility mains sustained any significant damage. There were no injuries reported among Palace employees.

The King later visited Hull in the summer of 1941 to view the bomb damage suffered in the city. On being told by a local woman that her windows were all bombed out, he replied: "So are mine at Buckingham Palace".


These would be the last conventional bombs that would strike Buckingham Palace during the war (A V1 flying bomb attack near the Palace wall, at the westernmost tip of Constitution Hill, in June 1944 severely destroyed the Palace grounds, walls, and an 18th-century summer house.)

Buckingham Palace served as a tempting target for Luftwaffe bombing during the Blitz due to its symbolic significance and the fact that the Royal Family insisted on residing there publicly.

However, their efforts were unsuccessful. Despite numerous attempts to destroy it, the Palace survived the Second World War with minor damage.

Further reading