Kensington Palace – Home to some of Britain’s Famous Kings and Queens since 1689:
Kensington Palace has been a royal home since 1689 and some of Britain’s most famous kings and queens have lived here. One of its best known resident in recent history was Diana, Princess of Wales, and with plans for Prince William and his wife to move here in 2013, the Palace will continue to attract a lot of interest.
Originally known as Nottingham House, Kensington Palace was bought by William III and Mary II in 1689 and they immediately commissioned Christopher Wren to enlarge the property, making it into a royal palace.
Since that time, Kensington Palace has been the setting for many great events in royal history – Queen Anne, the first sovereign of Great Britain lived here, Queen Victoria was born here in 1819 and it was at Kensington Palace that she learned of her uncle’s death and that she was now queen. Princess Diana lived here (1981-97) until her death.
A Working Royal Residence
Since Queen Victoria opened the State Apartments to the public in 1899, Kensington Palace has remained as a working Royal Residence and there are also many areas that are open to public viewing. With the recent major renovation project, many of the Palace’s secret stories of past royal figures, events and dramas are unveiled to visitors.
The Red Saloon, for example, on the Garden Floor was the location of Queen Victoria’s first Privy Council in June, 1837 and has been restored to its original appearance.
The Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is an exhibit of gowns worn by various royal personages from the 18th century to the present. Even the hats and handbags are on display at the Palace, showing over seventy hats belonging to Queen Elizabeth II.
Nearby are the King’s Apartments with several paintings and other works of art from the Royal Collection.
In contrast to the splendor of the King’s Apartments, and discreetly far away, are the subdued Queen’s Apartments. Built and furnished for Queen Mary II in the mid-17th century. There are several ‘family portraits’ and many original furnishings.
The Victorian Rooms are accessible, including Queen Victoria’s bedroom where she first learned of her accession to the throne. The rooms are furnished with many of Victoria’s and Albert’s personal effects.
Princess Diana occupied the apartments in the north-west part of the palace from 1981 to 1997. Although her private apartments are not open to the public, the palace displays a selection of her dresses in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. A Memorial to Diana, a large granite-block structure, remains very popular with visitors years after her death. The area is often decorated with flowers.
The Kensington Palace renovation project has transformed Kensington Palace into a more welcoming destination, with new gardens, landscapes, courtyards and cafes being installed. Visitors will also have additional walking routes to follow which will help them to learn about the rooms in the palace and the people who have lived in them.
Kensington Palace is easily accessible via the Tube (the London Underground subway system). Exit at High Street Kensington. You can skip the line and book your Kensington Palace tickets here. When visiting the palace, make time to enjoy a stroll through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, two beautiful royal parks in the heart of London.
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