Based just off of Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace is one of the most popular royal attractions in London. Dating back to the 17th century, Kensington Palace offers tours and exhibits, steeped in monarchic history. As the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, royal couple Prince William and Princess Kate are two of the most followed celebrities in the country, and bring tourists from all across the world to their “official” residence. For any royalists staying at the Park Grand London Kensington, your proximity to one of the most iconic palaces in the city will certainly give you the chance to delve deep into the lives of the royal family.
Built in 1605, this Jacobean mansion became the residence of King William and Queen Mary in 1689, due to it being further away from the river than Whitehall Palace and William’s poor health. After WIlliam’s death, the palace became the residence of Queen Anne, who had extensions built in the early 18th century. The famous Christopher Wren extensions led to the palace’s expansion, transforming it into the building we see today. The palace was further expanded by King George III in the 19th century, creating further royal apartments which were taken up by foreign visitors and diplomats.
Kensington Gardens were once private gardens and part of Hyde Park, being used as royal hunting grounds for KIng Henry VIII. in the 18th century, when Caroline of Brunswick took the throne, the gardens were separated from the rest of the park and a terraced garden was designed for the Queen, backing onto Kensington Palace. These gardens now embody part of the palace’s charm, bringing vast swathes of green and ponds to the magnificent house.
What to do at Kensington Palace
Whilst the evolving architecture has made the palace itself iconic, it also plays host to a range of galleries, historic tours and events, making for an extensive deep dive into the history of this royal household.
Christmas at Kensington
Over the christmas period, a wide range of Victorian themed decorations will festoon the palace. WIth cornucopia Christmas tree and Christmas card making on weekends throughout December, alongside talks and workshops about the history of the Christmas present, there is plenty to get involved with during your visit, especially when paired with the seasonal music from the Prince Regent Band, performing on their traditional brass instruments every day between the 27th December and 1st of January.
Alongside the Victorian era christmas decorations, the Victoria Revealed exhibition gives guests to the palace a chance to explore the childhood of Queen Victoria through journals and objects from the era defining queens past. Exploring her unhappy childhood and many aspects of her character which have been previously unexplored, the Victoria Revealed exhibit offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of not just the Queen Victoria, but the woman behind the crown.
Diana: Her Fashion Story
Detailing the life of Princess Diana, the beautiful but tragic figure who became a 90’s icon, the Fashion Story exhibit explores her life through her clothes. With beautiful velvet gowns, incredible dresses and royal formal attire, Diana’s clothes were often designed by the best designers of her era, and the Fashion Story exhibit really shows it. This exhibit is open daily until the 17th of February.