Inside Kensington Palace

Mention Kensington Palace and most people immediately think of Princess Diana, for it was here that the public outpouring of grief took place when she died. I can still remember the photos of the sea of flowers that appeared outside the gates as people paid their respects and mourned together.


Gates of Kensington Palace

The gates of Kensington Palace


The palace overlooks Queen Victoria’s Statue and the picturesque Kensington Gardens, complete with the Round Pool and white swans.

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens


Kensington Palace and Gardens

Kensington Palace and Gardens


Up until 1760 the reigning Kings and Queens of England lived here. Queen Victoria was born her in 1819 and it was thought that she may also rule from here but instead, she moved into Buckingham Palace when she ascended the throne in 1837.

Various members of the royal family live here in a separate wing. The Prince and Princess of Cambridge are soon to join them after the renovation of Princess Margaret’s former twenty room apartment.

Today Kensington Palace’s state rooms are open to the public after a major renovation.  The Palace Museum has been divided into five areas each displaying a different part of the palace’s history.

A small wing shows photos and dresses that once belonged to Diana and a new exhibition on the Diamond Jubilee has now opened.

In the area dedicated to Queen Victoria, important dates in history have been recreated. Original furniture, works of art and clothing from the time are on display.


We follow the arrows to the Red Saloon where Queen Victoria held her first Privy Council meeting on the 20th June 1837. As I was looking at the table around which the meeting was supposed to have taken place, I was trying to work why the sentence  ” I was nervous…..” was written on the table. Obviously not the original table! As we wandered the rooms more of these sentences that Queen Victoria was supposed to have uttered appeared when we weren’t expecting them.  The photo on the left shows the case displaying Queen Victoria’s wedding dress. Across the glass front are written the words ” Oh, this as the happiest day of my life” .  I would have preferred to let the palace’s history do the talking without this modern intrusion.


As we climbed the stairs to the Queen’s State Apartments I started to get worried again. The original beautiful Jacobean staircase had been adorned with leather trunks, ropes and flying seagulls that looked as though they had come from a Ralph Lauren display. Was all this necessary?

Kensington Palace

Ralph Lauren display at Kensington Palace!


Birds appeared again in the long and magnificent Queen’s Gallery. I couldn’t resist asking why.  ‘The Queen loved  birds’, I am told!  This maybe so but they were completely out of place in this historic room!

The Queen's Gallery at Kensington Palace

The Queen’s Gallery complete with birds!


By the time we reached the King’s Apartments, I was not sure if the painting on the staircase was original or not. Had the treatment of the displays in the earlier rooms clouded my judgement. It appears so, as they were William Kent’s recreation of the court of George 1st.

Staircase to the King's Apartments in Kensington Palace

Staircase to the King’s Apartments


Just when I was getting in the groove and enjoying the magnificent rooms, I walked into the King’s Gallery. Shock and horror! I could not stay silent any longer! What were the hideous modern fake gold decorations hanging from the room’s original chandeliers. The sweet guide on duty did say that I was not the first to comment on this before telling me the history of the room!

Ceiling in the King's Gallery at Kensington Palace

You can see the offending gold piece hanging from the chandelier in the bottom right hand corner!


Thanks heavens for the Palace’s stunning gardens. They saved the day!

Kensington Palace Gardens

The garden at Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace Gardens

Go….it’s up to you!  The rooms all have original features which are stunning in themselves.  Unfortunately, someone has felt the need to add unwarranted decorations that have, for me, detracted from the original masterpieces, but others enjoy them!


What is your favourite museum in London?



This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Pop over and see the other other contributions.




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43 Responses to Inside Kensington Palace

  1. jan August 2, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    Refreshingly different – I have not seen a post on an English Palace for ages (if ever!). As usual beautiful photos. The gardens are gorgeous – that is what happens when they gets rained upon so often! Did you see the chinese/korean/indonesian debacle last night in the Olympics?

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      Thanks Jan. It was certainly not what I expected but at least I’ve seen it now. The gardens are always stunning. I think you’re right about the rain!!

  2. Nancie August 2, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I love gardens! I have not been in London since I was about 20 years old. I do remember visiting the Crown Jewels and was most impressed.

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      Sounds as though London is calling you again Nancie! It would be interesting to see how you felt about it now! The gardens in London are always stunning.

  3. D.J. - The World of Deej August 2, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    My only time in London, I simply walked by and snapped a photo. I’ve wanted to return to see the inside ever since…Here’s more reason to do just that…

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      It’s now open again after renovations D.J, so next time you’re passing you can pop in. I’d be interested to see how you find it.

  4. Jackie Smith August 2, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    A wonderful look at Kensington Palace – your photos and narrative were so fun to read and look at that that it just seemed like I wanted more at the end. Like, “Where did you go next?”

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      Thank you so much Jackie for your kind words. Maybe I have to thank the Palace for their strange additions to some of the displays!

  5. Sophie August 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I remember walking among all the flowers on an early autumn day 15 years ago. It’s a beautiful palace, isn’t it – inside and outside. Though being surrounded by all that beauty… perhaps it’s not enough if one is unhappy.

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

      The palace has been renovated since you were there last Sophie but the gardens are as stunning as ever. Your sentiments are so true. As I looked out through one of the upper floor windows over towards the lake and trees of Kensington Gardens, there was a feeling of looking out and wanting to be free but never completely being free.

  6. Laurel August 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    It wasn’t open when I was in London, but good to know that it’s reopened as I’ll be in London a couple of times this year. The gardens are especially beautiful.

    • [email protected] August 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      If you do get to visit Laurel, I’d be interested on your thoughts on the restoration and the way they present everything in the museum.

  7. Muza-chan August 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Great photos 🙂

  8. Lisa Goodmurphy August 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I’m a bit of a traditionalist so I think that I would be a bit ticked off about someone adding their own interpretations to an historic palace too. The gardens look absolutely stunning though! I’m starting to make tentative travel plans for next year that would include a return visit to London for a few days and I would love to visit Kensington Palace and Gardens. I generally love to visit palaces and gardens but I would also like to see the palace where Princess Diana lived. I was an impressionable young girl who got up early in the morning to watch her fairytale wedding and I always had a bit of a soft spot for her despite all the turmoil that came later.

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      The gardens are magnificent and the features in the palace are equally so if you can ignore the extra bits and pieces! So much history has taken place inside the walls that I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. There’s a small section on Princess Diana that you’ll also enjoy. They also have activities for the kids to do as you go into each area. Have fun planning your London trip.

  9. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista August 3, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    I have wandered Kensington Gardens many times and they are very beautiful! I would love touring the Palace but I think I’d respond like you did to all the modern interpretations. Loved your pictures.

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      Thanks Debbie. It was disappointing but underneath all the crazy modern bits and pieces, there’s a lot of history and beautiful features to see.

  10. Cathy Sweeney August 3, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    I was disappointed to hear of the changes at Kensington Palace with the decorations and all. I visited there in 2002 on my first trip to London and it was a highlight for me. When I toured inside, I was in the Queen’s Gallery all alone for a while (and without the birds). I had goosebumps thinking about all the history of the place. The gardens are indeed, gorgeous!

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

      I would have loved to have been in the Queen’s gallery alone and not distracted by the birds! How fabulous for you Cathy. All the more special now that it has changed!

  11. Sabrina August 3, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    What a huge palace! The pics are really neat. and you’re right… I wouldn’t have known the name of the palace, but I do remember the gate from when people placed flowers there after Dianna had died.

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      This is only part of it too, Sabrina. Members of the Royal family live in separate wing. There is also a small part of the museum that has a display of Princess Diana’s dresses and photos!

  12. maq203 August 3, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Beautiful photos of Kensington. Those photos are amazing!

  13. Jenna August 3, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I just posted on London because it is a city I absolutely love, but I haven’t been here. The gardens are so beautiful, and I’m a sucker for any kind of historical palace, church, art, etc.

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Next time you’re in London Jenna, you’ll have to visit if you can turn a blind eye to all the extra bits and pieces!I can see from your post that you love London-I enjoyed going back after a break of 3 years.

  14. Krista August 3, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    What glorious gardens!!! I’d happily wander there for a couple of hours. 🙂 And the birds in the gallery are so charming. 🙂

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

      I agree Krista, I could happily sit on one of the benches in the garden for a while and just enjoy it. One vote for the birds!

  15. Mary @ The World Is A Book August 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Beautiful pictures, Jenny! I would love to visit the palace and gardens during a return visit to London. I have a soft spot for palaces and extravagant gardens. Those unnatural looking birds do look a bit distracting in the Queen’s Gallery.

    • [email protected] August 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      Thanks Mary. The birds and the other additions that they had dotted around were distracting but there were still some fabulous features to be seen and history to be absorbed.

  16. Sensibletraveler August 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I spent three weeks in London and never even thought about making it out to Kensington. I totally missed out!

    • [email protected] August 4, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

      What a shame you didn’t make it to Kensington Palace. It’s at one end of Hyde Park and unless you’re heading there you may not realize. Next time!

  17. Vera Marie Badertscher August 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    I wouldn’t mind some manequins with costumes of the period or placards with information, but it does seem somebody got carried away and let the displays become more important than the palace. Sounds like somebody who thought people were bored with the same old palace.

    • [email protected] August 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      You’re so right Vera, they certainly got carried away! The palace has some stunning features, which don’t need any dressing. I’m not sure what they were thinking! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  18. marina August 4, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    I remember the bouquets of flowers out side the gate also. You took some great photos here – those gardens are wonderfully colourful!

    • [email protected] August 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks Marina. The incredible number of flowers were certainly hard to forget. I did enjoy taking the photos of the gardens

  19. Leigh August 5, 2012 at 8:36 am #

    I’d be happy just spending hours wandering the gardens – and I’m with you wondering what in God’s name they’re thinking of adding the unnecessary accouterments.

    • [email protected] August 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

      The gardens were beautiful Leigh. After the craziness inside, it was so relaxing to walk through the gardens and park.

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