|Kensington Palace – London
Probably better known in recent times as the place that Princess Diana was living when she tragically died, and now where Prince William and Catherine will be living from 2013, Kensington Palace is actually a massive complex with some 700 rooms with a number of members of the Royal Family having, or are living there. So you could argue that it is not so much as a palace as a gated housing development!
The Palace itself, however, has a much longer and rich history. In fact it has housed royalty since the late 1600s. The Palace has two main areas. There is the private wing where the members of the royal family live, and then the historic state apartments that you are able to visit, and find out more about the long history of the palace.
Over £12 million has been spent on revamping the state apartments, and was re-opened in March 2012. After this revamp, you are able to tour 4 key areas which are:
- The Queen’s State Apartments. This is the oldest part you can visit. It is where Queen Mary II lived and where she died. It covers the end of the Stuart reign of England and when new rules of accession came in that included accession to the eldest male heir, no Catholic could be monarch or marry a monarch.
- The King’s State Apartments. In here you can explore the areas used by George I and II and see where they would do their public business. You get to see some of the original ceremonial clothes (including one with a massive train that took 6 people to help carry)
- Victoria Revealed. This tells the story of Queen Victoria and includes where she first meet the Privy Council at ahge 18 when she became Queen, the nursery and rooms where she did much of her royal business when there and then rooms covering the death of Albert (her husband), the Great Exhibition and her Diamond Jubilee
- Then there is a 4th area with exhibitions. On opening was a small exhibition of Princess Diana dresses and then a bigger Jubilee – A view from the crowd. Various others will follow
In the main Palace is a tea room and also a large shop selling various memorabilia and books.
The grounds of the palace are not huge, but in a great location surrounded by Kensington Gardens. In the actual grounds is a beautiful formal garden and then large lawns with a large and very beautiful Organery building that houses a restaurant that as well as serving lunch, serves various afternoon tea options. These involve tier holders with sandwiches, cakes and scones and different teas.
As the pictures show, the room is fantastic, large, bright and stylish. The afternoon tea great. Though you cannot reserve a time and table and the line to get in can be slow and involve hanging about a great deal.
It is easy to spend a few hours exploring the Palace and gardens.
One thing I think that is a miss is that as you tour around there is not a lot of detail on the history of the Royal Family and the Palace. The staff are very helpful and will explain, so you may want to buy the Guide Book that costs about £5 so you can better understand the history, or read up about it before you go. I think the limited history and explanation is a pity as you can miss the significance and importance of this Palace.
But saying that, it is a great place to visit – and even better if you also do the afternoon tea!
See some photos I took below, and all of them on Flickr: click here
|Kensington Palace London
|Kensington Palace London
|The Orangery at Kensington Palace
|Inside the Orangery Kensington Palace for Afternoon Tea
|Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace
Official website: http://www.hrp.org.uk/kensingtonpalace/