History from across the centuries, Royalty from the 21st

Wed 23rd August, 2017
 

10 facts about Kensington Palace

One of the most popular attractions in London with 394,000 visitors last year, Kensington Palace has centuries of history to tell.

1 – Kensington Palace was built by William III and Mary II to help ease the King’s asthma outside of the capital. It was known as ‘Nottingham House’ originally, as the Jacobean house was owned by The Earl of Nottingham.

© Chloe Howard 2014

Kensington Palace was the favourite residence of George II, but created by William and Mary © Victoria Howard 2014

2 – Numerous treasures have been found within the Palace walls: work by Henry VIII’s court painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, were found in a drawer at the palace; Queen Caroline, consort to George II, was thrilled with the discovery. A book of drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, thought to have belonged to Charles I, was unearthed in 1770 during the reign of George III.

DIANA’S DRESSES AT KENSINGTON PALACE 

3 – Princess Margaret lived in Apartment 1A, which now belongs to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Diana, Princess of Wales, occupied Apartment 8 with her sons, while The Duke and Duchess of Kent have Wren Cottage, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester Apartment 1, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent Apartment 10. There are rumours Princess Eugenie may move in if she marries her long-term boyfriend.Have a look at the layout here.

4 – George II was fond of this as a residence. An evening of cards saw him and friends get a little rowdy: Countess Deloraine’s chair was pulled away as she sat down – which the King found hilarious. She did it back to the King – who, suffering from haemorrhoids – didn’t appreciate the joke from his humiliated friend.

5 – This is where Princess Alexandrina – the future Queen Victoria – grew up, first met Prince Albert, and was told she had become Queen after the death of her uncle, William IV. She was 18.

6 – The King’s Apartments are deliberately quite bare. Courtiers would queue up to try to have an audience with the King, and so furnishing was kept minimal to allow space for crowds.

Barack and Michelle Obama talk with William, Kate and Harry in the Cambridge’s drawing room at Kensington Palace. They live in Apartment 1A. (WPA/I-images)

7 – Royals don’t just live in the Palace – there are a few cottages within the grounds which are inhabited by members of the Royal Family; Nottingham Cottage, north of the complex, is where Prince Harry lives.

8 – Kensington was first opened to the public in 1899 after an ageing Queen Victoria ordered the palace to be restored. Historic Royal Palaces now runs the parts of the Palace open to the public, focussing on Queen Victoria’s and Diana, Princess of Wales’ stories. You can buy tickets here.

9 – The walls of Kensington Palace have seen numerous births and deaths. Queen Mary II died of smallpox here, Queen Anne suffered numerous heartbreaking miscarriages and stillbirths, ending her days there. But Princess Victoria May of Teck, who became Queen Mary (consort of George V) was born at the palace, as was Queen Victoria.

This statue of Queen Victoria was made by her own daughter, Princess Louise (HRP)

10 – The statue of Queen Victoria which sits outside of the palace was created by her daughter, Princess Louise. It was unveiled in 1893, when the palace was in a state of disrepair.

Written by

Victoria has a passion for British history and Constitutional Monarchy, hence her reasons for founding The Crown Chronicles. Her specialism is the Early Modern era, with particular emphasis on the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. She is also a keen reader (usually something historical), baker and shopper. Her motto is to have a full bookcase, but a fuller wardrobe. Miss Howard also works closely with the British Monarchist Foundation as their Press Secretary and Spokesman.

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