Touring Kensington Palace, London – The Home of Iconic Royal Women

Kensington Palace, nestled within the borders of London’s Hyde Park, started out as a simple stately home back in the 1600’s before its grand extension. But it’s the long line of royal women who have been residing here for centuries who have helped to shape its lasting glory and modern day popularity.

Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

It was Queen Mary (the first royal resident alongside her husband King William) who ordered the renovations in 1689, adding extra galleries and the famous Queen’s Apartments. It was to be completed quickly and at a low cost, leaving Kensington Palace with the subtly which still stands today.

Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Centuries aside, your journey here will begin with the Palace’s most famous and loved personality, Diana Princess of Wales. Her radiant portrait dominates the first gallery you enter – these being the grounds where she spent her time as a doting mother and passionate humanitarian, throwing charitable gatherings in the State Apartments.

Princess Diana Portrait, Kensington Palace, London,

It’s how people always remember her here, yet the smile hides the entrapment of an unhappy marriage – Kensington Palace being her first and only marital home with Prince Charles in 1981, up until her death in 1997.

Princess Diana dress collection, Kensington Palace, London

A large part of Kensington Palace stands in tribute to her, her many dresses displayed in a permanent exhibition alongside those of the Queen (which are somewhat overshadowed). Our blue badge guide, Alison from City Wonders, even takes us to the iconic golden gates where its said over a million bouquets were left after Diana’s death – an iconic image in British history.

Princess Diana wallpaper, exhibition, Kensington Palace, London

Iconic gates of Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace, Princess Diana flowers

On the wall opposite is an image of Prince William and Kate Middleton holding baby George – the newest residents and most favoured of the modern royals. While William is returning to his childhood home, Kate is certainly making her mark on Kensington Palace and its homely reputation. Next to that hangs a stunning black and white photograph of Princess Margaret, the glamorous socialite whose time here was defined by extravagant parties with high-profile musicians and other famous faces.

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Princess Margaret, Kensington Palace, London

From modern acquaintances to the most revered former residents of old, Alison walks us through the history of Queen Victoria who was born here, became Queen at the age of 18 and ruled with great sovereignty from this hold until her death in 1901. The rooms detail her journey from lonely childhood to devoted wife and mother, and ending with the profound black and white images of the grief which completely consumed her for 27 years following he death of her husband Albert.

Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Queen Victoria, Albert, Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert death, Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

While the King’s State Apartments and the Queen’s State Apartments are open to the public, parts of which have been turned into artistic exhibition space, you won’t have any chance of catching a glimpse of modern day royal life here. For some, this may be a little disappointing in their exploration of regal London, this Palace being just as ‘closed’ and limited as others.

Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Tucked away behind a wall and beyond the pretty facade is where the young generation of royals including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Zara Philips reside – so hidden that you won’t even be close enough to snatch a quick wave from them through a window.

Kensington Palace, London, Royal Palace

Kensington Palace gives a glimpse into some of Britain’s most revered and iconic royal women, from powerful rulers to fashion icons. The rooms, untouched in their splendid layouts or aided by quirky educational visuals, bring periods of history close enough to visualise. Just don’t expect to meet Kate Middleton and the future Kings of England anytime soon. A guide can’t even pull that miracle off, no matter how many clever questions you ask.

I was a guest of City Wonders on their Kensington Palace day tour, which ends with a delicious Afternoon Tea at the Baglioni Hotel (so you can feel a little royal). All opinions remain my own, including my own desire to be able to wave at William and Kate through their window like I know them. 

 

Comments

  1. says

    I was left a little disappointed by the palace because of most of the interiors being covered up but the gardens when in full bloom are probably one of the nicest I have seen.

    • says

      I find most Palaces very similar in their layout and what you are allowed to see – it becomes very static I agree, although Kensington Palace does mix it up a little with some artistic additions. I did enjoy the angle of female rulers and personalities. It made a nice change, rather than just straight regal overviews.

  2. says

    I went to Kensington Palace when I was last time in London but I didn’t like it at all. I agree that the gardens are its best feature. But as they say-each to their own, right?

    • says

      Indeed. Without the ‘iconic female’ element i would have been pretty much bored as I normally am in other palaces… many of which I have skimmed through within an hour. This was another test on my part and really… we all want to bump in Kate Middleton, right?

  3. Sofia says

    I had no idea how much people loved Princess Diana when you mentioned that over a million bouquets were left at the golden gates when she died. Well I honestly don’t fancy being a royal nor be treated like a royal, but at least to see and enter a royal house would be like a very nice experience.. even just some part of it.

  4. says

    Great post- I think people forget that this, altho a palace, is still someone’s home when they don’t get to see bits and pieces. I manage to bump into the Queen on a regular basis when I’m in London (seriously, whenever I go and visit the Mall is closed for her to drive out and I always end up waiting so I can wave at her). I so love our royal family, I know there’s a bit of a split about it, and it’s a bit uncool for young people to like the Royal family, but it generates such tourism, and everyone in the world know who they are! It’s amazing!

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