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Discover royal history at the Kensington Palace London

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Located in Central London, the Kensington Palace is a royal palace used as the official residence for members of the Royal Family till date. The Palace has a history that stretches back to the 17th century and has been the residence of the royals for over 300 years. Set amidst the scenic Kensington Gardens, the Kensington Palace is a tranquil solace from the bustling lanes of London. A visit to the Kensington Palace allows one to explore the royal way of life through a range of attractions and artefacts inside the premises.

History Behind Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Once upon a time, the Kensington Palace as we know it today was a suburban villa in Nottingham known as the Nottingham House. In 1689 King William III and Queen Mary II bought this house as the king suffered from asthma and needed to move away from the Whitehall Palace to a place with cleaner air. Hence, the Nottingham House was bought from the Earl of Nottingham as a country retreat to occasionally escape the dank air of London but stay close to the courtly affairs.

After William III died in 1702, the palace became the home of Queen Anne, sister to Queen Mary. Sir Christopher Wren designed the Orangery and Henry Wise designed a large garden for Queen Anne during the period she stayed. Queen VictoriaQ is said to have most of her childhood at the Palace before she left for Buckingham Palace in 1837. In modern times, Kensington Palace was known as the London residence of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The palace opened to the curious public in 1899, a few years before Queen Victoria's death. It immediately became the home of the London Museum before the museum moved to its current Barbican headquarters. Today it continues to serve as a residence to several members of the Royal Family. In 2012, the latest renovation to Kensington Palace was undertaken which took a period of 2 years to complete and a total of £12 million.

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Top 5 Things to See Inside the Kensington Palace

The interiors of the Kensington Palace is nothing short of breathtaking. After all the royals have been staying there for over 300 years, so it is only fair that the opulence is garrishly visible in both its exteriors and interiors. While touring the Kensington Palace, here are the parts you should watch out for.

1The King's State Apartments

Furniture and paintings from the Stuart-Hanoverian periods are on display in this section of the palace along with rooms from the Victorian era and works of art from the extensive Royal Collection. The King's State Apartments is made up of the following : The King's Staircase, The Privy Chamber, the Presence Chamber, The King's Drawing Room, The King's Gallery,The Cupola Room and The Council Chamber. The King's Gallery is the is the longest and the largest of the apartments at the Palace so spend some time ambling the length of it. While you're here, don't forget to look up and witness the maginificent ceiling painted by Willain Kent in 1723 which looks new to date

Kensignton Palace

2The Queen's State Apartments

The Queen’s Apartments is dedicated to Queen Mary and the time she spent during the day’s she and King William lived in Kensington Palace. While you’re strolling through this section of the Kensington Palace, make sure to pay keen attention to the Queen’s Staircase, the Queen’s Gallery filled with ornamental artefacts, the Queen’s closet, the Queen’s Dining Room and the Queen’s Drawing room which holds an intertwined monogram of William and Mary’s initials in a beautifully carved cornice. The very last and most sought after room in the Queen's State Apartments is the Queen's Bedroom in which Queen Victoria went to sleep a princess and awoke a Queen at the age of 18.

Kensignton Palace

3 Modern Royals

The Modern Royals section, recently dubbed as "Fashion Rules Restyled" is a set of 5 rooms with elegant displays that you through a journey down decades of royal wardrobes by 3 royal women - Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. Flaunting 18 couture dresses, this exhibition drips with diamonds, pearls and class; showcasing the trends of their respective eras and how the Queens negotiated the rules of dressing fashionably while staying within the rules of a royal wardrobe. Apart from the royal couture, framed magazine covers of the Queens wearing the gowns and sketches of dress ideas scribbled by historic designers are on display. Videos of instances when the Queens adorned the gowns are are projected as well.This is the closest one can get to the seeing the royal's wardrobe up close, so don't skip this!

Kensignton Palace

4Victoria Revealed Modern Royals

Inspired by Queen Victoria's journals and featuring displays of her personal objects in the rooms where she once lived, the Victoria Revealed tour of Kensington Palace gives one an intimate account of Queen Victoria's life.Princess Victoria was born in 1819 at the Kensington Palace and spent most of her childhood in the palace with her mother, the Duchess of Kent. She became a queen at the age of 18 and her very first Privy Council meeting was held in Kensington Palace’s Red Saloon. Victoria Revealed explores many such milestones in her life and displays to the world various facets of the 18 year old Queen who reigned for 63 years

Kensignton Palace

5Sunken Garden Modern Royals

The Sunken Garden is a secluded green oasis born back in 1908 that changed a potting shed into a classic ornamental garden. It's elaborate gardening style with a range of flowers, ornamental pond and rotational seasonal flowers is taken after the celebrated style that was fashionable back in the 18th century. The Sunken Garden is at its best from April to October with a splash of vivid tulips, pansiesm, begonias, geraniums and wallflowers blooming and adorning the grounds. While sauntering the Sunken Gardens, make sure to walk through the White Garden, a natural space brimming with more than 12,000 lovingly hand-planted Tulip bulbs, Persian Lilies, Treasure Primrose Wallflowers and English Roses; all in cream and white. The White Garden serves as an ode to Lady Diana who loved the green spaces of the Kensington Palace.

Kensignton Palace

The Kensington Palace Gardens

The Kensington Gardens was initally a fragment of the Hyde Park. When the Royal family shifted into the Kensignton Palace, this western half of Hyde Park was sectioned off to make grounds for the Royals. Apart from the Kensington Palace and Sunken Garden within the Kensington Gardens, there is a lot more to see in this lush land. Here is a list of a few things to watch out for at Kensington Gardens : Albert Memorial, Statue of Peter Pan, Serpentine Gallery, Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground,Italian Gardens, Physical Energy Monument, The Arch, Queen Caroline's Temple, Round Pond and the Two Bears Fountain

Kensignton Palace

Kensington Palace - All You Need to Know

Getting to Kensington Palace

  • Tube: The closest Underground Tube Stations to the Kensington Palace are the the Queensway & Notting Hill Gate on the Central Line and High Street Kensington station on the District & Circle line.
  • Bus: If you're coming by bus to Kensington Palace, you can take bus numbers 70, 94, 148, and 390 to Bayswater Road or 9, 10, 49, 52, 70, and 452 to Kensington High Street.
  • Train: Kensington (Olympia) and Paddington Station are the closest train stations from Kensington Palace. These stations are a 20 to 25 minute walk away hence tubes or buses that drop you closer are recommended.
  • Car: The palace is located off the A40 Bayswater Road and the A315. From M4 drive until A4 and go until the junction with the B325 and turn left on to Gloucester Road. From here drive until the end of the road and at the A315 junction turn left, to reach the Kensington Palace entrance. Note, the Kensington Palace is within the London Congestion Charge Zone hence high parking fees are applicable. Since the Palace has not parking facility, you will be required to park on Young Street off Kensington High Street or under the Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street and walk to the Palace.

Kensington Palace Hours

Hours for the Palace, Gardens and the Facilities :

Summer (March 2 - October 31)
Wednesday to Sunday - 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Last admission - 5:00 PM
The Sunken Garden, is open from Wednesday to Sunday - 10:00 AM to 5:45 PM

Winter (October 31 - March 1)
Wednesday to Sunday - 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Last admission - 3:00 PM
The Sunken Garden, is open from Wednesday to Sunday - 10:00 AM to 3:45 PM

Do check the opening and closing times for the date you wish to visit on the official website as these timings are prone to changes.

Practical Information - Know Before You Visit Kensington Palace

  • If you're not particularly interested in royal history and if you're traveling with kids particularly, it is advisable to give this attraction a miss as it may not appeal to you.
  • Keep aside 2-3 hours for a sedate tour of the Kensington Palace and a relaxed stroll along the Kensington Gardens.
  • If you're a history buff, make sure to attend the “History Bites” talk hosted daily in the Visitor's Center where an “expert” educates visitors on various aspects and facts of palace. Attending these are free of cost and require no prior booking.
  • Kensington Palace Audio Guides are available for £5 and is highly recommended to know the history and story behind what one is seeing and walking by.
  • Telephone bookings (0844 482 7799) can be done for booking a tour at the Kensington Palace at an additional fee of £2 per booking.
  • There are 2 restaurants in Kensington Palace - The Orangery which offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, and the Palace Cafe which serves sandwiches, cakes and pastries.

Insider Tips

Kensington Palace
  • The best time to visit Kensington Palace is post lunch, around 2PM - 3 PM as most of the big tourist groups complete their tours by this time and you'll still have 2 more hours before the Palace closes.
  • The best view from the Kensington Palace is from the windown in the King’s Drawing Room. Don't forget to peek out here and click pictures galore!
  • Watch out for the rare 17th-century wind dial in the King's Gallery which is functioning till date.
  • If you're traveling with kids, plan your trip on the last Saturday of the month in order to make it for the Funtastic Saturdays. There's something exciting happening for kids below 13 on these days and will keep them entertained while you explore British royal history.
  • Using the coach or tube instead of the train is recommended despite the high prices as the closest train station is a good 45 minute walk away.
  • Exhibitions themed around royalty are held at Kensington Palace year round. Try coinciding your trip with an ongoing exhibition as they are free of cost and are great value addition!
  • If you're looking to traverse the Kensington Gardens without having to walk all of it, look out for the Liberty Drives golf cart. They have 7 pick points around the garden and provide free mobility to anyone who wants to quickly manoeuvre through the 760 acres of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
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