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Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is located in Kensington
Location in Kensington
General information
Town or city Kensington Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London
Country England

Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Today, the State Rooms are open to the public and managed by the independent charity

  • Official website
  • Bibliography recommended by Historic Royal Palaces

External links

  • Impey, Edward (2003). Kensington Palace: The Official Illustrated History. London: Merrell Publishers in association with  

Further reading

  1. ^ "Who We Are". Historic Royal Palaces. Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Origins," Kensington Palace official website, Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  3. ^ Kensington Palace', Old and New London: Volume 5 (1878), pp. 138-152"'palace " . Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  4. ^ The London Encyclopaedia, ed. Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert, rev. ed. (London: Macmillan London, 1993; ISBN 0-333-57688-8), pp. 311, 438.
  5. ^ Nicholls, Frank (1761) "Observations concerning the body of His Late Majesty", Philos Trans Lond 52: 265–274.
  6. ^ "Queen Victoria: the original people's princess". Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Freedman, Lisa (6 April 2013). "A right royal starter home: As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge prepare to move into Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace this summer, Lisa Freedman revisits the house during its 1960s heyday". Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Alderson, Andrew (17 February 2002). "Margaret's home to be opened to public".  
  9. ^ "Queen's tribute to Princess Alice". BBC News. 30 October 2004. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Corrections to inaccurate media stories about the Royal Family
  11. ^ Cockcroft, Lucy (6 October 2008). "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent to pay £120,000 rent for Kensington Palace flat".  
  12. ^ Routledge, Paul (14 June 2002). "Comment on Queen's grace-and-favour apartments".  
  13. ^ "Growing Up Royal".  
  14. ^ The Independent, 10 September 1997.
  15. ^ Tominey, Camilla (18 December 2011). "Princes William and Harry back in Diana's flat". Express. Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  16. ^ Jephson, Patrick (14 July 2013). "Kensington Palace could feel like a prison to the newest Royal". Express. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Foster, Max (26 June 2014). "Royal palace upgrade for William, Catherine and George costs $7.6 million". CNN. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "By George! Cost of fixing up William and Kate's four-storey Kensington Palace residence ready for baby prince spirals to £2million after first budget is 'blown out of the water". Daily Mail. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "Prince Harry moves into Kensington Palace".  
  20. ^ "Queen Victoria," Kensington Palace official website, Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  21. ^ Porter, Laura. "Kensington Palace". Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  22. ^ Owens, Mitchell (June 2012). "KENSINGTON PALACE’S NEW LOOK". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 


See also


The nearest tube stations are in Queensway, Bayswater, Kensington High Street, or (slightly farther) Gloucester Road.

[22] The Kensington Palace State Rooms underwent a two-year, £12 million ($19 million) renovation, underwritten with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as other public and private sources. The re-opening of the palace occurred in time for the

By the end of the 19th century, the State Rooms were severely neglected. The brickwork was decaying and the woodwork was infested with dry rot. Calls were made for the palace to be demolished, but Queen Victoria declared that "while she lived, the palace in which she was born should not be destroyed." In 1897, Parliament was persuaded to pay for the restoration which was completed two years later. The State Rooms were opened to the public on the Queen's birthday, 24 May 1899. This began the palace's dual role as a private home to royalty and a public museum.[20] Queen Mary was instrumental in opening the State Apartments as a temporary location for the London Museum (now known as the Museum of London) from 1911 to 1914. The State Apartments were filled with showcases, some containing hundreds of objects including 18th century costumes and dresses worn by Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary. The museum returned from 1950 to 1976 before it moved to its permanent home at the Barbican Centre.[21]

Kensington Palace as a tourist attraction

[19] to a one-bedroom apartment at Kensington Palace.Clarence House On 28 March 2012, it was announced that Prince Harry had moved his residence from [18] The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kept many of the home's original details, including crown moldings, but used a subtle color palette of beiges, creams and earth tones. The royal couple moved into the apartment with their infant son, [17] Renovations took 18 months at a cost of £4.5 million ($7.6 million). The buildings costs included new heating, electrics, plastering, removal of asbestos that required nearly everything to be stripped out internally, as well as a new roof.[16] On 6 November 2011, it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would move from their temporary residence of Nottingham Cottage on the Kensington Palace grounds, to the four-story, 20-room Apartment 1A, formerly the residence of Princess Margaret.

21st Century

In 1981, in the part of the palace that George I had built for the Duchess of Kendal, Apartments 8 and 9 were combined to create the London residence of the newly married Prince of Wales and his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, and it remained the official residence of the Princess after their divorce until her death. Her sons, Princes William and Harry were raised in Kensington Palace and went to local nursery and pre-preparatory schools in Notting Hill, which is a short drive away. According to Andrew Morton, the palace was a "children's paradise" with its long passageways, a helicopter pad, and many outdoor gardens, including one on the roof where the family spent many hours.[13] Upon Diana's death on 31 August 1997, the gold gates at Kensington Palace became the focus of public mourning with over one million bouquets, reaching 5 feet (1.5 m) deep in places, placed as tribute before them stretching out into Kensington Gardens.[14] The Princess's coffin spent its last night in London at Kensington Palace. On the morning of 6 September 1997, a tenor bell was sounded to signal the departure of the funeral cortege, carrying the coffin from the palace on a gun carriage, to Westminster Abbey where the ceremony was conducted. Diana, Princess of Wales's residence was stripped bare and lay vacant for 10 years after her death until they were split back into two apartments, with Apartment 8 being used by four of Charles’s charities and Apartment 9 becoming home to the Chief of Defense Staff.[15]

Flowers left outside Kensington Palace

The Queen gave the keys to the five-bedroom, five-reception grace-and-favour Apartment 10 to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent at the occasion of their marriage in 1978. In 2008, there was controversy when it was claimed that the couple paid a rent of only £70 per week, though they fulfilled no official duties on behalf of the Queen. A committee of British MPs looking for "value for the money" demanded they be evicted. The British Monarchy Media Centre denied these reports and stated that, "The Queen is paying the rent for Prince and Princess Michael of Kent's apartment at a commercial rate of £120,000 annually from her own private funds... This rent payment by The Queen is in recognition of the Royal engagements and work for various charities which Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have undertaken at their own expense, and without any public funding."[10] It was announced that from 2010, that Prince and Princess Michael would begin paying rent of £120,000 a year out of their own funds to continue living in the apartment.[11][12] In 1996, Prince Michael's older brother, the Duke of Kent and his wife moved into Wren House on the Kensington Palace estate.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester moved into Apartment 1, the 21-room house previously occupied by Princess Marina after their marriage in 1972, and where they subsequently raised their three children. In 1994, after the Gloucesters had to give up their country home, Barnwell Manor, for financial reasons, they moved the Duke's aged mother Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester from Barnwell to Kensington Palace where she died in her sleep on 29 October 2004 at age 102. She holds the record as the oldest person in the history of the British Royal Family.[9]

Following their wedding on 6 May 1960, Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, and Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon moved into Apartment 10, that Princess Margaret termed "the doll's house," which had been vacated by the recent death of Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Carisbrooke, eldest son of Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, while they set about transforming the much larger Apartment 1A to new designs. In 1960, Kensington Palace was under the auspices of the Department of the Environment, and the renovation had to be carried out under the strictest of budgets, with the eventual costs coming in at £85,000 (approximately £1.5 million today). By 1962, the whole interior had been gutted and all the floors, except the attic floor, had been removed to deal with rising damp. The resulting modern apartment consisted of the main reception rooms, three principal bedrooms and dressing rooms, three principal bathrooms, the nursery accommodation, nine staff bedrooms, four staff bathrooms, two staff kitchens and two staff sitting rooms. Twenty ancillary rooms included a linen store, a luggage room, a drying room, a glass pantry and a photographic dark room for Lord Snowdon. The house in 18th century style, had a modern color palette with the bold use of colors including Margaret's favorites, pink and kingfisher blue. The house was largely designed by Snowdon and Princess Margaret with the assistance of the theatre designer Carl Toms, one-time assistant to Oliver Messel, Lord Snowdon’s uncle, and a close friend of the royal couple.[7] The royal couple moved into Apartment 1A on 4 March 1963, prior to the birth of their daughter, Lady Sarah, who was born at the palace the following year.

Kensington Palace was severely damaged during The Blitz of 1940 when it was hit by an incendiary bomb that exploded in the north side of Clock Court, damaging many of the surrounding buildings including the State Apartments, particularly the Queen's Apartments. The Headquarters of Personnel Section occupied Apartment 34, and as a result the garden was overrun with anti-aircraft guns, sandbags and trenches. Repairs to the palace were not completed for several years, but after the war, Prince Philip stayed with his grandmother in the lead-up to his 1947 marriage with Princess Elizabeth, later to become Queen Elizabeth II. With the bombing damage and the deaths of Princess Louise and Princess Beatrice, the palace entered a period of neglect. During the 1950s, residents of the palace included Master of the Horse, Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort who had married Lady Victoria Cambridge (a niece of Queen Mary as the daughter of the 1st Marquess of Cambridge), Sir Alan Lascelles, Queen Elizabeth's private secretary and Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone who lived in the palace until her death in 1981. In 1955, the widowed Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent moved into Apartment 1, with her children, which had been vacant since Princess Louise's death in 1939. It was at this time that the apartment was divided and Apartment 1A being created. The stylish Duchess of Kent continued to live in the apartment until her death at Kensington Palace of a brain tumor in 1968.

During Helena, Duchess of Albany, her daughter Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone with her husband Alexander Cambridge, 1st Earl of Athlone, who was the brother of Queen Mary. In 1921, upon widowhood, Victoria, Marchioness of Milford Haven moved into a grace-and-favor apartment at Kensington Palace. During this period, her grandson, Prince Philip would live with her at times as she was in charge of his education. As a result of the number of royal relatives residing there during the 1920s and 1930s, Edward VIII called the palace "the aunt heap."[8]

20th Century

In 1837, Princess Alexandrina Victoria was awakened to be told that her uncle, King William IV had died and that she was now queen. She took the regnal name of Victoria and held her first privy council in the Red Saloon at the palace. The Queen promptly moved to Buckingham Palace, but she did grant rooms in Kensington Palace to her family and retired retainers, which included the Duke and Duchess of Teck, parents of Queen Mary (grandmother of the present Queen), who was born at Kensington Palace in 1867. In 1873, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll was given Apartment 1 that were formerly occupied by the Duchess of Inverness, widow of the Duke of Sussex. Princess Louise had an art studio in the palace from which the statue of Queen Victoria in Kensington Gardens was sculpted. Louise made one change to her apartments when she ordered the windows bricked up after discovering her husband, Lord Lorne, was climbing through them to visit his mistress at night.[7] Louise's younger sister, Princess Beatrice, was given by Queen Victoria the apartments once occupied by the Queen and her mother below the State Apartments.

Louise's statue of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace

Princess Sophia. His daughter, Alexandrina Victoria was born on 24 May 1819 and her christening conducted in the Cupola Room the following month. The Duke of Kent and Strathearn died nine months after the birth of his daughter, and she grew up in the confines of the palace in an unhappy and lonely childhood as a result of the Kensington System adopted by her mother, Victoria, Duchess of Kent and the domineering Sir John Conroy, her mother's comptroller of the household.[6] Princess Sophia fell under the sway of Conroy, who took advantage of her senility and blindness. She frequently served as his spy on the Kensington household as well as on her two elder brothers, while Conroy squandered most of her money until she died in 1848 at Kensington Palace.

With the accession of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was allocated apartments in the south-west corner of Kensington Palace in 1805 known as Apartment 1. He was interested in the arts and science and amassed a huge library that filled ten rooms and comprised over fifty thousand volumes. He also had a variety of singing birds that were free to fly around his apartments and a large number of clocks. He was elected as president of the Royal Society and gave receptions in his apartments at Kensington Palace to men of science, but the expense they incurred induced him to resign the presidency, as he preferred to employ the money in making additions to his library. The Duke of Sussex caused quite a scandal when he married twice in contravention of the (Royal Marriages Act 1772) because it had not been approved by the King. His second wife, Lady Cecilia Letitia Buggin, was never titled or recognized as the Duchess of Sussex. However, she was created Duchess of Inverness in her own right in 1840. The Duke died at Kensington Palace in 1843, and as he had lived beyond his means and amassed substantial debts, his possessions, including the library, were sold after his death. The Duchess of Inverness continued to reside at Kensington Palace until her death in 1873.

19th Century

Notable palace residents

[5] The last reigning monarch to use Kensington Palace was

Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal.

The Cupola Room
King George I and King George II Kensington Palace was also the setting of the final argument between

After William III's death, the palace became the residence of Queen Anne. She had Christopher Wren complete the extensions that William and Mary had begun, resulting in the section known as the Queen's Apartments, with the Queen's Entrance, and the plainly decorated Wren designed staircase, that featured shallow steps so that Anne could walk down gracefully. These were primarily used by the Queen to give access between the private apartments and gardens. Queen Anne's most notable contribution to the palace were the gardens. She commissioned the Hawksmoor designed Orangery, modified by John Vanbrugh, that was built for her in 1704.[4] The level of decoration of the interior, including carved detail by Grinling Gibbons, reflects its intended use, not just as a greenhouse, but as a place for entertaining. Also, a magnificent 30 acre (121,000 m2) baroque parterre, with sections of clipped scrolling designs punctuated by trees formally clipped into cones, was laid out by Henry Wise, the royal gardener.

Kensington Palace Orangery

Queen Anne

Additional improvements soon after, included Queen Mary's extension of her apartments by building the Queen's Gallery, and after a fire in 1691, the King's Staircase was rebuilt in marble and a Guard Chamber was constructed, facing the foot of the stairs. William had constructed the South Front, to the design of Nicholas Hawksmoor, which included the Kings' Gallery where he hung many works from his picture collection. Mary II died of smallpox in the palace in 1694, and in 1702, William suffered a fall from a horse at Hampton Court and was brought to Kensington Palace, where he died shortly afterwards from pneumonia.

In the summer of 1689, William and Mary bought Nottingham House from Secretary of State Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham for £20,000.[2] They then instructed Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor of the King's Works to begin an immediate expansion of the house. In order to save time and money, Wren kept the structure intact and added a three-story pavilion at each of the four corners, providing more accommodation for the King and Queen and their attendants. The Queen’s Apartments were in the north-west pavilion and the King’s in the south-east. Wren then re-oriented the house to face west, building north and south wings to flank the approach, made into a proper cour d'honneur that was entered through an archway surmounted by a clock tower. The palace was surrounded by straight cut solitary lawns, and formal stately gardens, laid out with paths and flower beds at right angles, after the Dutch fashion.[3] The royal court took residence in the palace shortly before Christmas 1689, and for the next seventy years, Kensington Palace was the favoured residence of British monarchs, although the official seat of the Court was and remains at St. James's Palace, which has not been the actual royal residence in London since the 17th century.

Kensington Palace began as a simple two-story Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Nottingham and was then known as Nottingham House.[2] Shortly after William and Mary assumed the throne as joint monarchs in 1689, they began searching for a residence better situated for the comfort of the asthmatic William, as Whitehall Palace was too near the River Thames, with its fog and floods, for William's fragile health.

Kensington Palace south front with its parterres, engraved by Jan Kip, 1724.

King William III and Queen Mary II



  • History 1
    • King William III and Queen Mary II 1.1
    • Queen Anne 1.2
    • King George I and King George II 1.3
    • Notable palace residents 1.4
      • 19th Century 1.4.1
      • 20th Century 1.4.2
      • 21st Century 1.4.3
  • Kensington Palace as a tourist attraction 2
  • Gallery 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

and are maintained by the Royal Household Property Section. Royal Household The offices and private accommodation areas of the Palace remain the responsibility of the [1]

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