Consider yourself royalty on a day out at Kensington Palace! It’s got everything your little aristocrats could need - exploration trails, ornamental gardens and 12,000 Swarovski crystals - wowee.
History of Kensington Palace
Did you know the palace has been home to young royals for over 300 years? And it's the birthplace of Queen Victoria, who became queen when she was 18 and ruled for 63 incredible years! Kensington Palace is also the official residence of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton) and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louie. As well as other royal residences, like Princess Louise, Princess Diana, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, throughout the long history.
The royal palace used to be a small villa called Nottingham Cottage or Nottingham House and new British monarchs William III and Mary II chose the place to become their country retreat in 1689. In the following years both Stuart and Georgian monarchs reshaped the palace into a fashionable home for young British royal families. Queen Caroline transformed the palace and gardens and Queen Victoria spent her childhood here before moving to Buckingham Palace in 1837.
During the 17th century when King William III and Queen Mary II lived here, they held magnificent and elegant balls in ornate and glorious rooms, with grand staircases and mesmerising halls to walk in.
Things To Do & See
Wind your way on a family trail through the King’s State Apartments. These were private apartments that held meetings and were used for audiences. Because visitors stood in the presence of royalty, there was no need for normal housing furniture. And instead, the elegant private apartments were decorated with spectacular sculptures and collections of art. As well as the terracotta busts of George II and Queen Caroline.
The Queen's State Apartments were royal apartments where Queen Mary and later royal consorts lived. The royal palace apartments are where they had their bedroom, ate their meals and entertained friends and guests. It was a larger apartment where they could relax and live in.
You can also uncover the human side of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Stand in the very bedroom in which she awoke to the news that she was to be queen, or experience her childhood as a constrained monarch-to-be in The Room of a Sleeping Princess display.
Explore The Gardens
The Historic Royal Palaces gardens are a beautiful addition to the already beautiful Royal Palace. The Sunken Garden was first designed and created in 1908 and was modelled on the Pond Garden at Hampton Court Palace. With a collection of herbaceous plants, terraces, water features, all created with natural materials. The outdoor gardens have continued to evolve with more elements being added, like ornamental flower beds and an ornamental pond.
Kensington Palace's formal gardens began as the King's playground for over 100 years. When William III and Mary II came, they created a separate park with formal flower beds and box hedges, a Dutch style. As Queen Anne came to the throne in the 18th century, she created The Orangery. An English-style garden with a greenhouse and citrus trees. In 1728 Queen Caroline further expanded it and made it the garden it is today. With the boating lake, Broad Walk and round pond. For most of the 18th century, it was not a public garden, except on Saturdays, for those dressed respectively.
Royalty isn’t all about glitz and glamour, but a little bit never hurt anyone. Be dazzled by the amazing light installation at the centre of the Palace, made from almost 4 km of electroluminescent wire and containing nearly 12,000 Swarovski crystals! Equally the in-house exhibition, Princess Diana: Her Fashion Story, showcases outfits worn by the princess throughout her lifetime.
Food & Drink
After all the exploring and discovering what royalty was like from the 17th century, 19th century and all the way to the present. Stop off for a bite to eat. You can either indulge in a delightful classic afternoon tea at The Pavillion in the grounds of the royal palace. Or grab some light bites from The Cafe, like sandwiches, cakes and ice cream!
- Family trails through the Palace
- Marvel at a stunning light installation
- Wander around the tranquil Palace Gardens and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea