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.
The palace overlooks Queen Victoria’s Statue and the picturesque Kensington Gardens, complete with the Round Pool and white swans.
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?
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!
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.
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!
Thanks heavens for the Palace’s stunning gardens. They saved the day!
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.