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What’s On At Kensington Palace

There is so much history within the walls of this historical palace. Find out what’s in store for your visit.

Nottingham House, Kensington Palace’s predecessor, was a tiny suburban home. In 1689, the new rulers William III and Mary II chose this little mansion as their country retreat.

Over time, by Stuart and Georgian rulers, the palace was turned into a stylish dwelling for Britain’s youthful royal families.

The palace and gardens were designed by Queen Caroline, and it was here that Queen Victoria spent her childhood. In 1837, she moved to Buckingham Palace. Minor royals, like her daughter, the gifted sculptor Princess Louise, subsequently made Kensington their home.

Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Margaret, and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have all resided at the palace in recent years. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as their children, call it home in London. Let’s look at what’s inside.

THE KING’S GALLERY

Known as the King’s Gallery, the King’s Gallery is the largest and longest of Kensington Palace’s staterooms. It has remained virtually unchanged since it was renovated for King George I in 1725. A new marble chimneypiece, carved overmantel, and new doorcases were all installed by William Kent, along with red damask and beautiful oak craftsmanship.

Kent and his associates, also painted the seven massive ceiling canvases depicting scenes from the life of Ulysses. It was additionally utilised as an exercising area when not presenting artwork at the King’s Gallery.

The east end features a replica of van Dyck’s majestic portrait of Charles I on horseback, which is the most famous painting in the world.

It was erected as an expansion to Sir Christopher Wren’s original design for William III – dedicated to the monarch. In this room, William would meet with his spies and strategise about military missions.

Many private moments took place in this room. It was in this location that William engaged in a game of soldiers with his nephew and intended heir, the Duke of Gloucester. It was also at Hampton Court Palace that the King passed away from pneumonia after falling from his horse while riding across the grounds.

ROYAL STYLE IN THE MAKING

This unique temporary exhibition at Kensington Palace in the newly-conserved ancient Orangery explores the close interaction between fashion designers and royal clients, showcasing the process behind some of the most important couture commissions in royal history.

The wedding gown of Diana, Princess of Wales, will be on exhibit for the first time in 25 years at Kensington Palace. Also featured will be a rare, surviving toile for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s 1937 coronation gown as a consort of King George VI.

The exhibition also includes never-before-seen artefacts from the archives of some of the most famous royal couturiers of the twentieth century. There are also samples of the gilded gowns and elegant tailoring designed for three generations of royal women. Fashionistas might expect a few surprises.

The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the world of the atelier, revealing how some of Britain’s most talented designers make garments for the international stage. The designs on display helped create the public image of the British monarchy and drove the British fashion industry onto the world stage, from the symbolic power of a coronation gown to the romance of a royal wedding gown.

Original sketches, fabric swatches, and never-before-seen images from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection will be on exhibit, illustrating the distinct qualities that each couturier brought to the royal wardrobe, alongside examples of their most famous work.

THE KING’S STAIRCASE

William Kent painted a stunning replica of George I’s court on the walls of the King’s Staircase. The artwork depicts a bustling 18th-century court with a cast of intriguing and surprising individuals. Visitors to the Georgian court were only allowed in provided their attire and jewellery passed inspection with the guards. Some of the guards, dressed in their red uniforms, stand among the arcade’s painted figures, many of whom can be identified as members of the royal court.

In 1724, Kent finished the staircase murals, which replaced more basic wooden panelling erected by Sir Christopher Wren. In the painting, Kent incorporated a portrait of himself. Look for him on the ceiling, wearing a brown turban and clutching an artist’s palette, with his mistress at his shoulder.

Kent’s picture also features the King’s Polish page Ulric and the King’s Turkish attendants Mahomet and Mustapha, in addition to the Yeomen of the Guard. Peter ‘the wild boy,’ a feral child discovered in the German forests, also appears.

Kent was influenced by work he saw in the palaces of Rome, where he trained, for the imaginative architecture of the staircase painting.

VICTORIA: A ROYAL CHILDHOOD

Discover the storey of Princess Victoria, the young girl destined to become Queen, in the Kensington Palace apartments where she was born and reared.

This permanent exhibition explores how an indulged young princess matured into the independent and legendary monarch we remember to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Victoria’s birth. The exhibition features a sad scrapbook of keepsakes produced by Victoria’s German governess, Baroness Lehzen, which is on public display for the first time, as well as Victoria’s dollhouse.

Historic Royal Palaces curators conducted significant research into the decorative schemes Victoria would have known as a child as part of their work to reconstruct the chambers where she grew up. Curators collaborated with interior designers to replicate the Regency wallpaper on Victoria’s dollhouse, merging this fascinating piece of history with historical examples to inspire the exhibition’s decor.

The Duke of Kent’s letters from the day of Victoria’s birth in the birth room — which detailed everything from the arrangement of the palace apartments to the view from the window — were an invaluable resource for imagining how this historic place would have looked during Victoria’s youth.

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