I’m obsessed with historical palaces and now that I live in London, I feel like I’m in a huge playground with all the palaces that I can visit in and around the city. Ironically though, Kensington Palace is only the second palace I’ve visited since I arrived in London 2 months ago. But that’s because I keep on going back to Hampton Court Palace whenever I can which is just a walking distance from where I live.
Kensington Palace is popularly known as the childhood home of Queen Victoria who ruled United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland for 63 years. Nowadays it is also the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Princess Kate. The late Princess Diana also lived in the same residence from the day that she married Prince Charles until her death. Suffice to say, Kensington Palace is still being actively used by the Royal Family.
Kensington Palace was originally a mansion called Nottingham House. It was only developed to be how it is now when William III and Mary II came into throne. Being asthmatic, it was far better for William III to stay in Kensington Palace which was surrounded by lush greenery rather than staying in the Whitehall Palace in the center of the city.
An interesting fact about this palace which piqued my interest is that it’s believed to be cursed specially to the women who lived there. It’s been plagued with tragedies, deaths and rumored to be very haunted. Queen Mary died of small pox just one week after moving into Kensington Palace. Queen Caroline’s womb ruptured in the palace during her 8th pregnancy and subsequently died. Queen Anne suffered 17 failed pregnancies with only one surviving child who then died at the age of 11.
Both Princess Margaret and Princess Diana lived very unhappy lives while in Kensington Palace and of course, Princess Diana’s death was also very tragic. Here’s to hoping that the Duchess of Cambridge will turn the curse of the Kensington Palace around or better yet, avoid it.
When you go to Kensington Palace, you’ll be able to access The King’s State Apartments passing through the grand King’s staircase and the Queen’s Apartments. There’s also an exhibition featuring Queen Victoria’s life in the palace which features many personal objects and extracts from her diaries and letters. An exhibition showcasing the royal fashion can also be seen – royal dresses worn by The Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana are displayed in this exhibition which changes time and again. So you might see different dress displayed everytime you go back.
The Orangery at the Kensington Palace offers an incredible venue for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea. I planned to go there after visiting the palace however, it was closed for a private function at the time. So instead, I just walked around the beautiful grounds of the Kensington Gardens which is a destination in its own right.
To be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed with Kensington Palace as it wasn’t as interesting for me as Hampton Court Palace. They don’t have an audio guide so you’ll basically rely on the writings provided in each areas and the guides which are almost always busy attending to other people. Thankfully though, I was just in time for their afternoon visual presentation which gave a great insight of the history of the palace. I do highly recommend that you attend this presentation which they try to do at least twice a day.
Also, the majority of the King’s State Apartments are closed to visitors for refurbishment until the end of February 2017 so I guess I’ll just have to visit it again when it’s done.
Plan your visit to the Kensington Palace:
Ticket price during peak season: GBP18 per adult.
Ticket price during off-peak season: GBP16.50 per adult.
Children under 16 can access the palace free of charge.
Note: Buying your tickets online is cheaper than the gate price.
I bought an annual membership with Historic Royal Palaces which is priced GBP48. With this membership, I have an unlimited access to all the 6 Historic Royal Palaces. If you plan on visiting more than one palace, the membership is absolutely worth it.
01 March to 31 October timings: 10AM to 6PM
01 November to 28 February timings: 10AM to 4PM
Nearest underground stations: High Street Kensington (District or Circle Lines)
For more information, you can visit their official website.
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