If you’re a fan of the royal family (who isn’t?) or simply love to learn more about history, then London is definitely the perfect place to take a step back in time and immerse yourself in the spectacular world of the past. With incredible palaces, fortresses and monuments across London, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring history, but Kensington Palace has to be one of the top must-see places in the city.
As one of the main residences of the royal family since the 17th century, Kensington Palace has played an important role in the lives of many key people, including Queen Victoria, as well as many contemporary figures. And if you’re staying in the Park Grand Hotel Kensington, you’re well-positioned to visit the palace and take a closer look.
Read on to find out more about the history of Kensington Palace, and how you can experience a taste of the royal life within its walls.
Discover the early story of Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria was born and raised within the walls of Kensington Palace, where her playful and creative imagination was indulged, before being carefully led towards the path of becoming the country’s monarch. With the 200th anniversary of her birth, you’ll now be able to experience a closer insight into how she was brought up, and the unique world around her.
Through a special exhibition focused on her history, visitors can enjoy a look at Victoria’s early years, including a scrapbook of memories from her governess and other important artefacts. The Royal Palace curators have even researched and recreated the rooms she would have been brought up in, paying close attention to the bright and vibrant wall and carpet colourings that filled the rooms.
You’ll also get a glimpse of the moment where she was first told that she was Queen and held her first Privy Council, with a visit to the Red Saloon in Kensington Palace. With its striking red carpeting and bold furnishing, it’s a great way to experience some of the drama of her early years.
Get a glimpse into Diana’s wardrobe
As well as being an important home for Queen Victoria, Kensington Palace was also a major part of the late Princess Diana’s life, as her former London residence, the palace has honoured her memory with a special exhibition dedicated to her love of style.
The exhibition is centred on her interest in fashion, and the role several important pieces from her wardrobe played in her life. You’ll see how she developed her own ‘royal uniform’, with sketches, notes and actual items from her collection on display, and get a glimpse into both her innate charisma, as well as her keen love of people.
Discover the opulent State Rooms
No visit to Kensington Palace is complete without a tour of the State Rooms, and both the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments will give you an intimate look at the details that make up royal life.
The King’s Apartments are designed to impress and were never designed for living in, so you’ll see little in the way of furniture in these rooms. Instead of being used for general living activities, the State Apartments would have been used to meet and greet important courtiers and other visitors.
While you’ll see lots of opulent décor and beautiful works of art around the King’s Apartment, take a closer look at the finer details to get a little more insight into life in the court.
The King’s Staircase would once have been the first place where potential courtiers were vetted before entry – and the walls around the area depict a lively scene of the court, to give you an idea of the level of activity. In fact, in the 18th century, guards would check to see if your clothing and jewellery were truly up to scratch before they could decide whether to allow you into the King’s presence.
The Queen’s Apartments, meanwhile, have a warmer touch, as they would have been the space where Queen Mary II, and later royal consorts, would once have lived, eaten and entertained friends.
The staircase leading to the Queen’s rooms is a lot plainer, reflecting the privacy of the space, and the furnishings and wall coverings through the dining area and bedroom are far more cosy, providing the perfect place for the King and Queen to enjoy simple, everyday activities in.
After touring the luxurious State Rooms, treat yourself to your own taste of elegance. The Park Grand restaurant is located close by, and perfectly blends sumptuous style with a delicious menu, for a refined experience.
Take a tour around the gardens
Kensington Palace has some of the most beautiful of royal gardens, and they have a rich and fascinating history of their own, with formal gardens dating back to the 18th century. Featuring a lush and intimate oasis of plants and features, they can be a wonderful place to enjoy a romantic stroll. Check out London hotels romantic packages, and plan the perfect weekend visit around them.
Inside the palace, you’ll be able to see the eight varieties of plants that were discovered through the Victorian era, as well as exploring the many unique features around the garden. Take walk around the Sunken Garden, planted at the start of the 20th century, which features a variety of ornamental flower beds and intricate paving, designed around a fountain and pond, and filled with brightly coloured tulips and wallflowers.
You’ll also get to see the colourful wildflower meadow in the East Front of the garden, packed with native flowers that provide food for local insects. And for a truly magical experience, don’t miss the chance to walk through the Cradle Walk – a stunning garden arched arbour, providing the perfect place of shade on a hot day.
After a leisurely afternoon walking around the gardens, follow it up with a delicious Indian Afternoon Tea, taking the classic English tea time ritual to a flavour-packed new level.