Kensington Palace is part of the Historic Royal Palaces Group and of course the place where Queen Victoria was born and grew up, not to mention where Princess Diana lived and the London residence of Prince William and his family.
I’d booked in advance which as well as being slightly cheaper would, I imagine, get you moving through the queues much quicker. As it was I’d planned to get there not long after it opened and didn’t have to wait around at all – an hour later there were already sizeable crowds, no doubt helped by how surprisingly warm and sunny the day turned out to be.
The first section I visited was the Fashion Rules exhibition with dresses and fashion accessories on display which had been worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. There were some stunning dresses on display and it was interesting to read about the diplomatic reasons particular designs are chosen. The dress below is known as the Flowers of the Fields of France and was designed for the Queen to wear at the Elysee Palace in France. The embroidery, depicting symbols of France such as fleur-de-lis, took over three years to complete.
What I particularly liked about this exhibition though was the original sketches on display and I feel the Palace really missed a trick by not having duplicates available for sale in the shop.
From here I decided to first tackle the Victoria Revealed section of the Palace. Kensington Palace is of course the place where Victoria was born on 24 May 1819 and where she spent an unconventional, and in her words a lonely and unhappy childhood. Her mother, eager to control Victoria, instructed that she never be out of the sight of an adult and rarely allowed her to interact with other children. On display as part of the exhibition are some of the toys that Victoria was allowed to play with such as her dolls and sketches and paintings she created.
The other focus of the Victoria Revealed section is of course her relationship with Prince Albert and her children, including her long period of mourning after Albert’s death.
From here I moved on to the King and Queen’s state apartments, not all of which were open on the day of my visit. These were probably the most striking parts of the building, but didn’t always photograph as well as I would have liked. One particularly impressive aspect was the King’s staircase which was painted by William Kent as a recreation of the court of George I and was completed in 1724.
Of course a trip to Kensington Palace wouldn’t be complete without taking a picture of Queen Victoria’s statue in the gardens, which was designed by her daughter Princess Louise in 1893.
Kensington Palace was a lot more beautiful inside then I had suspected, given the somewhat workmanlike outside and it would be easy to spend a day there exploring the Palace and the grounds.
You can find more of my photos here.