Kensington Palace is definitely one of my favourite royal palaces in London. Kensington Palace is now home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and several other members of the Royal Family.
Of course, they all have separate dwellings within and outside of the palace. For example, Apartment 1A, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live, is a 4 storey, 20 bedroom home. Their neighbours, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester have a 21 bedroom apartment next door. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex live in Nottingham Cottage, a cosy two bedroom, two reception room cottage within the palace grounds.
Kensington Palace is also where 18 year old Princess Victoria became Queen, Princess Margaret entertained the in crowd in the swinging sixties and Princess Diana brought up her children.
The private apartments and cottages at Kensington Palace are accessed by a separate entrance and security is understandably tight. However, you can visit many of the historic portions of the palace which are cared for by Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity my husband and I are happy to support.
This includes The King’s State Apartments dating from the Georgian era (King George I and onwards) and The Queen’s State Apartments which belonged to King William III and Queen Mary II, the only monarchs in British history to reign jointly. I always feel like I’m stepping back in time when I wander through the beautiful rooms, with their opulent furniture and priceless artworks lining the walls.
Victoria Revealed at Kensington Palace
One of my favourite parts of Kensington Palace is the Victoria Revealed exhibit. Victoria Revealed is a wonderful walk through the life of a woman, a wife, a mother and a Queen. Entering the Red Saloon where she became an Empress in a time when men ruled the world, I saw the strikingly tiny dress worn by Victoria. It made me think about how very young she was on that fateful day. How daunting to be one of the most powerful people in the world at the tender age of 18!
As I moved through to the rooms she lived and worked in, words from Queen Victoria’s diaries were everywhere – on the carpet, on the display cases, and on squares of card hanging from red ribbons. I saw her letters and her sketchbook from when she was a child. I also read the diary entry written the night she met Prince Albert while standing in the exact place she did when she laid eyes on the love her life for the first time. It’s an experience that took my breath away.
Queen Victoria’s wedding dress is displayed with the words “Oh, this was the happiest day of my life”.
Even the uniform Prince Albert wore on their wedding day bears her loving words embroidered on the back of the collar, on each cuff and on the tails of his blazer. “Excellent Albert”, “Oh My Angel Albert”, “dearly loved” and more…Queen or not, these are the words of a bride head over heels in love with her groom.
The exhibit is laid out chronologically and gives the feeling of walking through Queen Victoria’s life. Her life was full of joys, but also great sorrow when her husband died in his forties. She really was never the same again, and I often have tears in my eyes by the end of this innovative and evocative exhibit.
Diana – Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace
Diana – Her Fashion Story, is a fabulous journey into the life of a Princess. Many of the outfits are instantly recognisable, and the exhibit is incredibly moving. You really can see how Diana, Princess of Wales, developed into her role, and later, into a new life as a humanitarian and philanthropist.
It’s especially interesting to see how her clothes echoed this transformation. There are also designer sketches, photographs, video and tributes to the late Princess.
A Walk in Kensington Palace Gardens
To finish off the adventure, there’s nothing like a walk through Kensington Gardens, which adjoin the palace. They used to be the private palace gardens but are now one of London’s eight Royal Parks. Kensington Gardens also the home of the famous Peter Pan statue, the Serpentine Gardens and the Albert Memorial. I particularly like the Queen Victoria statue, which was lovingly designed by her daughter Princess Louise (Duchess of Argyll) in 1893.
You can spend hours wandering here on a fine day. The lake is particularly beautiful. You never know who you might see. A few years ago there were photographs taken of the Duchess of Cambridge walking the family dog here.
Whether you are into history, a fan of the royal family, or just enjoy a good day out, Kensington Palace is a wonderful place to visit. If you’d like to share in the adventure, check out the Historic Royal Palaces website.