The grand staircase leads to William III’s State Apartments. On the wall is ‘Victory of Alexander over the Caesars’, by Italian artist Verrio. The 12 Caesars represent the Catholic forces that William has ousted in the Glorious Revolution. William is the hero Alexander.
The Guard Chamber displays a remarkable collection of weapons on the walls. Yeomen of the Guard would have been stationed at the door, checking courtiers were suitably dressed and behaved before allowing them into the Presence Chamber. This is the official throne room, with the chair of estate under its formal canopy. Usually empty, visitors would still have had to bow to the throne as they passed through. The State Apartments look empty to modern eyes but they would have been filled with beautifully dressed courtiers, meeting, gossiping and playing politics.
Next comes the Privy Chamber where only statesmen and courtiers close to the king are allowed entry. You can see the spectacular Privy Garden from the windows.
Don’t miss the ornate wood-carvings throughout William’s apartments. These incredibly delicate, virtuoso carvings are the work of Grinling Gibbons, a master-craftsman of the seventeenth century.
The spectacular Great Bedchamber wasn’t for sleeping in but for the King to be dressed in public. Next door, the Little Bedroom has a painted ceiling by Verrio with a bed-time theme; here Mars, the God of War, lies snoozing in the arms of Venus, Goddess of Love. Only the King’s most personal staff and close courtiers come in here.