Kensington Palace in London is a working royal residence of great historical importance. The last sovereign to live there was King George V until 1760. It was also the birthplace and home of Queen Victoria.
Today, Kensington Palace houses the offices and residences of several members of the Royal Family. These include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Prince.
Kensington Palace is open to the public, so you can now tour parts of the palace that are usually cordoned off for visitors. You can also see the collection of royal ceremonial dresses, which includes garments dating back to the 18th century, as well as designer stores and a café/restaurant.
The Palace is often used to celebrate England’s successes. The chairman of the British FA, the Duke of Cambridge, welcomed the England women’s soccer team in July 2015 to congratulate them on their excellent performance at the recent World Cup.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been hosting an annual award for the Place2Be Wellbeing in Schools program since November 2014. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were awarded a Teen Hero 2018 on BBC Radio 1 and celebrated Christmas at Kensington Palace the same year for Air Force personnel deployed to Cyprus.
Many changes have been made in the British monarchy following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. This event marked a major change in the country’s royal family, as her son, Charles III, became king of the United Kingdom, meaning that her eldest son, William, ascended to become Prince of Wales.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have recently made headlines for moving to Adelaide Cottage in Berkshire. They are living close to Windsor Castle, where they live.
History of Kensington Palace
In 1689, after William III purchased the Jacobean mansion from his Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham, he commissioned architect Christopher Wren to complete a major refurbishment.
Nicholas Hawksmoor was asked to build a palace quickly and economically, so the oldest of the royal residences was built of brick rather than the usual stone of today.
William and Mary completed their property in 1689 and moved in on Christmas Eve. They added an oak gallery, the queen’s apartments and a new entrance in the following years. During this time they also opened the gardens to visitors on Sundays.
Mary, who had a new palace built for herself and her son, died in 1694 of smallpox. In 1702, William I fell from a horse and died. His daughter, Queen Victoria, was born at Kensington Palace and grew up there.
Princess Diana of Wales also lived in one of the Kensington Palace apartments from 1981 to 1997.
What to see at Kensington Palace?
Exhibition : Life Through a Royal Lens
In Life Through a Royal Lens, you’ll see how photography brought the history of the British monarchy to life. Featuring iconic photos of fascinating pieces of our heritage, this is a rare glimpse into the world behind the palace gates.
For nearly 200 years, photography has helped the British royal family better connect with their subjects. A new exhibition is exploring this long-standing relationship and its lasting impact.
Photographs from throughout the 19th century to the present day have captured intimate moments of Ferdinand’s life with his family. He has been a pioneering photographer, innovator and professional since childhood.
Real life behind the scenes
Experience the impact of photographer Cecil Beaton, one of the great shapers of the royal image in the 20th century and his work in redefining modern royal portraiture.
The Royal Family is one of Britain’s most important institutions and Beaton’s portraits captured this moment in history. Explore Her Majesty the Queen and Queen Elizabeth the Mother, two of Beaton’s most faithful portraits, to see how his work changed public perception of royalty.
An exclusive look through the lens
The exhibition will include images by famous photographers such as Rankin, Annie Leibovitz, Norman Parkinson and David Bailey’s never-before-seen image of Diana, Princess of Wales.
For the first time at The Royal Collections there will be photos taken by members of the royal family themselves, including images by renowned photographer Lord Snowdon, who was the husband of Princess Margaret.
The King’s State Apartments
You may notice that these opulent rooms are surprisingly sparse when you first enter. This is because they were originally used as state rooms and would have been filled with luxurious furnishings.
During periods of a king’s reign, courtiers and visitors often had access to the royal palace. That meant that common household items were not needed inside these chambers.
But in these rooms there are many sculptures and works of art that were made in the 18th century, such as the terracotta busts of George II and his wife, Queen Caroline. They were made by Michael Rysbrack between 1738 and 1739.”
The King’s Staircase
This grand entrance to the King’s State Apartments is a must-see. It was designed by William Kent in an 18th century style and decorated with a painting depicting various events of George I’s court.
In the past, visitors to the court would have been dismissed if their clothes and jewelry were not good enough to be examined by the guards. Many of the paintings in this gallery depict members of the royal court. One group features some guards wearing distinctive red uniforms.
Kent painted the staircase and installed it in 1724. Sir Christopher Wren’s simpler wood paneling is still visible on the other side. Kent included an image of himself in the painting. Look for him on the rooftop with his mistress on his shoulder, wearing a brown turban and holding an artist’s palette.
At the court of George I there were many colorful and intriguing people.
Along with Yeomen of the Guard and the king’s Polish page boy Ulric, Kent’s painting includes the king’s Turkish servants Mahomet and Mustapha. The feral German foundling Peter “the wild child” also makes an appearance.
Kent used his knowledge of ancient Rome in designing the painting of the staircase. Diaphanous robes and prints inspired by everyday life can be seen in Diana which, in turn, is an exact copy of an ancient statue. They never found the original statue because it was made of marble and crumbled over time.
The Presence Chamber
In addition to acting as the King’s court, this room acted as a ceremonial hall for audiences and presentation of decorations. Grinling Gibbons carved two cherubs on the side of the fireplace that were originally painted in bright colors.
The Privy Chamber
Queen Caroline often retired to her private chamber to entertain. Check out the magnificent ceiling painted by William Kent in 1723/17 remodeled in 1810, as well as some stunning tapestries made in the Mortlake tapestry workshop, founded in 1575.
The Dome Room
The Dome Room was where it all began for William Kent, and you can see why! This room still looks so grand, and it’s exactly because of the attention to detail William had during this project.
The King’s Hall
Courtiers would flock to the King’s Hall in hopes of gaining power and receiving royal patronage, so this was where they would often begin their days.
The highlight of this room is a work by the Italian painter Jacopo da Vasari, a painting that was originally intended for King Charles I’s private chambers in Hanover, England, and was taken from there after the king went to war. When the queen tried to move it, her husband was furious and insisted on replacing it.
The King’s Gallery
The King’s Gallery is the largest and longest of the state apartments at Kensington Palace. It was transformed for King George I in 1725, when it received its present layout and design.
William Kent installed red damask, fine oak woodwork, a new marble fireplace, carved mantle and new doors. He also painted the seven large ceiling paintings depicting scenes from the life of Ulysses.
The King’s Gallery was a room used for activities such as exercise in addition to the display of art. At the east end of the room, a copy of Van Dyck’s Noble Portrait of Charles I on Horseback can be seen.
In this room decorated with green velvet, William III met with his spies and planned military campaigns. Likewise these spaces witnessed different moments of intimacy, including William playing soldiers with his younger nephew and heir apparent, the Duke of Gloucester. Here, King George died of pneumonia after falling off his horse at the Palace.
Exhibition: Victoria, a Royal Childhood
Discover the story of Princess Victoria and how she became queen in the rooms where she was born and grew up at Kensington Palace.
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth, a permanent exhibition has been curated to explore her pampered early years and how she evolved over time.
A scrapbook created by Victoria’s governess Baroness Lehzen and a doll’s house, on display for the first time, are among the objects in an exhibition in the Queen’s Gallery.
As part of their work to restore the rooms in which Queen Victoria grew up, curators at the Historic Royal Palaces have conducted extensive research into decorative schemes she may have known as a child.
After speaking with museum curators and interior specialists, the conservators reconstructed the Regency-era wallpaper in Victoria’s dollhouse. This is thanks to the loan of archival samples from the museum that were part of its history-filled setting.
The Duke of Kent’s letters from the day of Queen Victoria’s birth, detailing everything from what the palace looked like to what the view was like, provided an incredible resource for what this space might have been like.
Queen’s State Apartments
James II had been in office as King of England for over a year, but many people had strong feelings about it, including members of Parliament, and invited William III and Mary II, daughter of the king, to take his place on the throne and were crowned in 1689 as co-monarchs.
Kensington Palace was purchased to be their new home. They were considering Whitehall Palace, but that building was too far away. Kensington is a beautiful, quiet, wooded location and they transformed it into a royal residence.
The Queen’s apartments were where Mary (and her subsequent royal consorts) dined, had their bedrooms and entertained their friends and distinguished guests.
The Queen’s Staircase
The Queen’s Staircase is not as grand or ornate as the King’s Staircase. Mary would have descended a shorter staircase to reach her gardens, which are designed in the Dutch style.
The Queen’s Gallery
The Queen’s Gallery was built in 1693 and is a lush gallery with several lavish decorations. Princess Mary enjoyed the space for many of her simple pastimes, such as knitting or crocheting.
The Queen’s closet
The Queen’s closet was where Queen Anne and her friend, Sarah Churchill, had an argument in 1711. The Duke of Marlborough’s wife’s connection to her posts was removed.
The Queen’s Dining Room
The craftsmanship of the Queen’s Dining Room, where Mary and William could dine together, was beautiful. The couple liked to dine on modest fare: fish and ale.
The Queen’s Drawing Room
Queen Mary loved porcelain and filled her drawing room with pieces from China and Japan. You can see the interlocking monograms of William and Mary on the beautifully carved cornice.
A Royal Nativity
This room is the last room in the Queen’s State Apartments, which was built by Mary. It is where she enlarged her apartments for more space and created a new bedroom. The bedroom became a cozy social space for her to entertain friends.
The bed was introduced in this room and has been a significant element in its history. It is believed to have been the bed in which James Edward Stuart, son of King James II, was born.
As the half-brother of Mary and Anne, James was a threat to the Protestant establishment who spread rumors that the baby was an impostor, smuggled into the bed in a “hot pot”.
The Jewelry Room
The Jewellery Room at Kensington Palace contains an incredible array of jewels given to Queen Victoria by her beloved husband Albert. Items commissioned for Queen Victoria include those specially ordered for her by him.
The moment you see this set of 18 karat gold jewelry, you will be captivated by it. It is a perfect example of what can result from Prince Albert’s creative workmanship and talent for design.
The Kokosnhik tiara and the Fife tiara are two important pieces of jewelry gifted to the Queen in honor of her visit. Originally, they were also intended to be gifts for Princess Louise, however, they were later presented to the Queen by Princess Louise’s descendants.
Queen Victoria’s Tiara
This beautiful jewelry set features a tiara, necklace and earrings of emerald materials surrounded by diamonds. The crowning piece of the entire set is a diamond brooch that sparkles against the facets.
Presented to Queen Victoria by King Louis Philippe in 1845, the tiara is the only known example of a tiara created by a consort for her queen. It was designed to complement a necklace composed of nine clusters of emerald ovals, each set within its own gold circle.
Victoria wore a stunning 20-carat emerald and diamond brooch along with dangling earrings for the christening of her son, Prince Alfred, and for Fran’s portraits.
The Kokoshnik tiara
Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Louise, once owned this stunning Kokoshnik style tiara. It is made of a graduated pattern of diamonds in white and yellow gold with a headpiece like the Romanov style cockscomb.
The Kokosnhik tiara is on display at Kensington Palace because it was loaned to them by the royal family. Because of this, the tiara will be on display for a long time and could be seen by future members of the royal family.
The Fife tiara
Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Louise, received this tiara during her wedding. Its colors are said to signify the happiness of love and peace. The Duke of Fife presented Louise with a ring made of diamonds, ranging from one to ten carats. He also created incredible ‘swing set’ diamonds that inspired awe when they were revealed at the unveiling.
Kensington Palace Gardens
The famous Kensington Palace Gardens are one of London’s Royal Parks. With several gardens and galleries, there is a lot to see on site. Here are some of the most popular features.
The Sunken Garden
In 1908, the Sunken Garden was originally designed and built in this part of the gardens, which used to be occupied by greenhouses and potting sheds.
This new design was inspired by the Pond Garden at Hampton Court Palace and celebrated a formal Edwardian style of gardening that combined natural materials, terraced herbaceous plants, and water features.
As the garden evolved, many of the elements changed. Flower beds and paving can be seen around the pond and terraces have been built in parts of the garden.
In 2017, the garden was completely replanted for visitors to celebrate the life of Princess Diana. It was inspired by her dresses and the famous photographs by Mario Testino in which she has often been seen.
The garden continues to follow this pastel color scheme which is admired and enjoyed by visitors.
Located in Kensington Palace Gardens, the Serpentine Galleries consist of the South Serpentine Gallery and the North Serpentine Gallery.
Each year, an architect designs a pavilion for the Gallery’s garden. It’s an attraction for those looking to see what’s new in the gardens, even if you don’t consider yourself an architecture buff.
One of the most beautiful places in Birmingham’s Sunken Garden is the arched arbor of red lime trees. They surround the garden at equal intervals and provide a sheltered place to sit and relax.
In summer, the shaded tunnel is a good place to people-watch and enjoy the incredible colors of the Sunken Garden to the north or enjoy shaping it around other trees. The garden is constantly being sculpted and becoming something new.
Although it is commonly referred to as the “Girls’ Promenade” because of the many nannies who used to hang out there, since Kensington was inhabited by two billion people, they were called by this colloquial name. It was not only a place for nannies, but also for moms and dads to take their children out.
The orchard at Kensington Garden
Kensington Garden has a wide variety of plants for the general public to enjoy. Visitors can also peruse workshops on how to garden or grow their own fruit from home.
Wildflowers at Kensington Palace
The garden has many flowers, including wildflowers such as poppies, bluebells, daisies and many other native wildflowers. It has a beautiful natural look and feel.
The flowers help attract pollinators and other insects to the city. This can provide a way for plants to make their own food and shelter or for insects in general, which have a hard time making a living in urban environments.
Visitors to the gardens can also see the Dwarf Oak sculpture, located next to the playground in memory of Princess Diana of Wales.
Kensington Gardens has been in existence for over 100 years and was originally used by Henry VIII for his great hunt in Hyde Park.
Henry of England and James I, who collaborated to create Whitehall Palace, built a separate garden. When Mary commissioned her own fashionable garden, it was designed in a Dutch style that incorporated formal flower beds, geometric designs and hedges.
While many people have visited the garden, one of the most famous people who also wrote about it in his journals was John Evelyn. He visited on September 2, 1705 and wrote about how impressive the garden is.
The English-style garden was created around 1702 by Queen Anne and included a greenhouse designed to protect the citrus trees from the harsh winter frosts.
The Orangery consisted of a complete garden and elegant architecture, a perfect place for court entertainment away from the chaos of the city.
Queen Caroline transformed the landscape of Kensington Gardens in 1728. She built the Serpentine Boating Lake and the Long Water, as well as the Broad Walk and the open-air pond in one of London’s most frequented parks.
Initially, the garden was reserved for members of society known as the “respectably dressed,” until it became more accessible to the public in the early 18th century. A few decades later, Samuel Pepys expressed his admiration for how “cool” and “green” it was.
Luna Winter Cinema
Luna Cinema returns to Kensington Palace Pavilion in December to show some magical and festive films, including Elf and Christmas. The screenings will be accompanied by lots of festive cheer and have plenty of heartwarming moments to keep you warm during the cold days.
The Luna Winter Cinema is a new addition to the city. Its screenings, shows and other activities are all part of the holiday fun. You and your family will love getting together for a new tradition this winter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kensington Palace
What celebrities live in Kensington Palace?
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge currently call the palace home, as do Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank. They have plenty of room for their children, but the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are only lucky enough to get 20 rooms.
Where is Kensington Palace?
Kensington Palace is located in the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It is the largest house in London and has one of the finest gardens. It is also known as a landmark with 107 acres of garden space.
Who lives in Kensington Palace now?
For centuries, this palace has been the official residence of members of the royal family. It is now home to many people, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and the Prince and Princes.
What is the difference between Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace?
Kensington Palace was the place of residence of the late Princess Diana and Queen Victoria. It was their primary residence until they moved to Buckingham Palace due to security plus additional security measures.
What is Kensington Palace famous for?
Kensington Palace is a historically and culturally significant working royal residence. It was the favorite residence of successive sovereigns until 1760. As such, it shared some similarities with Buckingham Palace which was designed for George III by John Nash.
Is Kensington Palace open to public?
Parts of Kensington Palace are accessible to the public. Tour guests can tour the King’s State Apartments, Queen’s State Apartment and Gardens, as well as browse exhibits and shop.
What is Kensington Palace worth?
The palace has an estimated value of £465 million. That’s an 8,495% increase on its original price in today’s terms.
Can you live in Kensington Palace?
Kensington Palace houses the official London residences of His Royal Highness the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children. It also has apartments for 5 monarchs: the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Prince and Princess Michael.
Is Kensington Palace air conditioned?
The palace’s new tenants are upgrading the property by adding modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and air conditioning. It was designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren in the early 17th century, who also built St. Paul’s Cathedral and New Royal Exchange.
Is there a dress code for Kensington Palace?
No specific dress code is required to visit Kensington Palace.
Are the gardens at Kensington Palace open to the public?
Generally, the gardens are open to the public according to their opening hours. You can enjoy the Kensington Palace Gardens, but if you wish to visit the inside of the palace, you need to purchase a ticket.
Can you walk up Kensington Palace Gardens?
Visitors can explore parts of Kensington Palace that have been open to the public since around 1762. The King’s State Apartments, the Queen’s State Apartments and the gardens are among the places available to visit, as well as exhibitions and a store. There is also a café and event space for you to enjoy.
How do you get to Kensington Palace Gardens?
Kensington Palace can be accessed and walked to via two routes: Bayswater Road and Kensington Gardens.
What is the difference between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens?
Hyde Park is a public space that can be accessed 24 hours a day, while Kensington Gardens is only open during the day.
Can you visit the sunken gardens at Kensington Palace?
The Sunken Garden is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:45 pm.
How long does it take to walk through Kensington Gardens?
The Kensington Palace tour only in the gardens takes approximately 2 hours and includes stops at each of the sites. There is a kiosk next to the Albert Memorial or you can visit the Kensington Palace Café. This tour recommends you make refreshments beforehand.
Where do you park for Kensington Gardens?
Hornton Street is a busy street in Kensington and is located near stores, gardens and parks. It is also an area known for its parking attendant that can usually be found during busy hours.
Can you take pictures in Kensington Palace Gardens?
Kensington Palace is usually not open until 3:00 p.m., so it is best to avoid using a flash inside the palace. However, filming and panoramic photography (i.e., images where you can’t see the whole picture) are not allowed in the secure areas of Kensington Palace, making it unsuitable for filming movies or wedding proposals, for example.
Can you sit in Kensington Gardens?
Loungers can be rented inside the Royal Parks from March to October.
What Tube line is Kensington Gardens on?
The subway stations surrounding Kensington Gardens are: Lancaster Gate and Queensway (Central line), Queen street (Circle and District lines).
What is the nearest tube to Kensington Palace?
The nearest subway station to Kensington Palace is Queensway 8 minutes away.
How long does it take to go through Kensington Palace?
The Kensington Palace is well suited to visitors who are willing to spend more than 90 minutes and 2 hours on their visit. It is accessible by public transport, walking and tours.
Is Kensington Palace worth visiting?
Certainly, the history of Kensington Palace can be captivating and you will learn some amazing stories about many of the monarchs who lived here. As with many buildings, there are also tragedies, such as poor Mary II, who died of smallpox at the age of 32 and only ruled for four years.
How long is the walk around Hyde Park?
There are about 3 miles of perimeter paths around Hyde Park that follow the fence line.
Where is the border between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens?
The Serpentine Bridge is a stone arch bridge that separates Kensington Gardens from Hyde Park. It is a passageway for both parks.
What time does Kensington Palace open?
Kensington Palace is now open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Do you have to pay to go to Sunken gardens?
Kensington Palace Gardens is open to the public and you do not need admission to enjoy it. However, if you wish to explore the interior of the palace, you will need to purchase a ticket.
Can you see the Diana statue for free?
Although admission to Kensington Palace is officially paid, visitors can enter to see the Diana Memorial and it is free.
What days is Kensington Palace open?
Kensington Palace is open Monday through Sunday, except December 24-26.
Can you walk through Hyde Park at night?
Hyde Park is open for visitors from 5 a.m. to midnight all year round.
Is Green Park closed at night?
The park is open 24 hours all year round.
Where are the parakeets in Hyde Park?
Kensington Gardens (near Hyde Park) is probably the best place to see, feed and photograph green parrots in London. If you are traveling with kids and like bird watching, this could be a fun place – you can easily get up close and take pictures of these birds that are used to human contact!
Can you swim in Kensington Gardens?
There are a variety of activities to do, such as swimming, renting boats, or just enjoying some time on the sidelines. The water features in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and all the other parks are very important to the ecology of the parks and are popular with wildlife and members of the local community.
Who is the statue in Kensington Gardens?
The Albert Monument in Kensington Gardens is one of London’s most ornate monuments. It commemorates the death of Prince Albert in 1861 from typhus. The Memorial is actually located in Kensington Square, but is not visible from the outside.
How far apart are Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace?
The distance between Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace is 3 kilometers.
Where in Kensington Gardens is the Van Gogh Alive?
The Van Gogh Alive is located across Kensington Road from the Royal Albert Hall opposite the Albert Memorial. Those who have trouble using the stairs are encouraged to enter here for a step-free experience.
What can you see inside Kensington Palace?
You can get to know the Kensington Palace inside and also the following attractions:
The King’s State Apartments,
The King’s Gallery,
The Queen’s State Apartments.
Royal style in the making.
Victoria: A royal childhood.
Victoria: the woman and the crown.
What is on display at Kensington Palace?
Kensington Palace currently houses two exhibitions: Victoria: A Royal Childhood and Life Through a Royal Lens.
How many rooms does Kensington Palace have?
The palace is of neoclassical design. It has a total of 775 rooms, including 188 staff rooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms and 19 state rooms.
What is Kensington Palace famous for?
Kensington Palace is a historic royal residence that was home to England’s favorite monarchs until 1760. It was also the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria.
Is Hyde Park bigger than Central Park?
Central Park is 14% larger than London’s Hyde Park.
Why is Hyde Park famous?
Hyde Park is the largest park in Central Park and the Royal Parks of London in the United Kingdom. It was also known for being the site of WH Auden’s famous speaker’s corner.
How big is Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens?
Hyde Park covers about 350 acres and Kensington Gardens about 275 acres.
Can you eat at the Sunken Gardens?
Yes, picnic tables are available outside the Gardens. The Park Authority created them over a year ago and they are very popular with visitors. Perhaps you could try using them more often?
How long does it take to walk through the Sunken Gardens?
In about an hour, you can see the gardens. Otherwise, plan more time if you want to sit and enjoy in the gardens from time to time.
What time does Kensington Gardens open?
Kensington Gardens is open to the public daily from 6 am to 7 pm. Depending on the time of year, closing times may vary.
How long is the Diana Memorial Walk?
It is a seven-mile walk and is marked by 90 memorial plaques set in the ground that take you past a series of landmarks.