A Visit to Kensington Palace
After an 18 million dollar renovation, part of the Kensington Palace was recently reopened to the public. This stately red brick building was built in the early part of the 17th century and has been the residence for six British monarchs. The area once occupied by Princess Diana and Prince Charles are closed to the public. Prince William and his bride are expected to move into an apartment in the private royal section next year.
A statue of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) greets visitors as they enter the walkway leading to the main entrance. Inside there are four different routes that lead off of the main vestibule. One avenue heads to an exhibit called Victoria Revealed. Queen Victoria was born in Kensington Palace. Her life is highlighted by the use of artifacts and descriptions.
A special exhibit lasting only until the beginning of November commemorates Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. She was queen from 1837-1714. Positive and negative aspects of her reign are revealed. Criticisms are boldly displayed.
Another corridor goes to The Queen’s State Apartments. The Stuart dynasty is the main focus. One image that is hard to forget is a room called “Queen Anne’s Hopes”. King William III and Queen Mary II (late 17th century) did not have any children. They were relying on Queen Mary’s sister, Anne, to continue the dynasty. Anne (1665-1714) became queen after their deaths. She had 18 pregnancies. All but one survived infancy. Her son, Prince William, died when he was 11. The room is filled with 18 small chairs that capture this depressing fact. Health care and mortality rates have improved dramatically since the 17th century.
To fully enjoy the palace, I needed to look up at the ceiling. It is filled with murals and amazing golden details.
Part of the royal experience is the ornate dress. I wondered if the queen ever sat down.
This royal robe has a train that is yards and yards long. What does the underside look like?
Like many other European palaces, there is a long, narrow room that houses magnificent artwork.
The masterpieces are centuries old. This Italian Renaissance piece caught our attention. It is called “Esther Before Ahasuerus” by Jacopo Tintoretto.
The King’s staircase is massive and impressive. These lifelike murals provide a taste of royal life.
After all of the hoopla associated with the other exhibits, Princess Diana’s wing appears unimpressive. The room has a small collection of her designer outfits. I hope that she will be remembered more for what she did than what she wore.
A fitting end to our tour were the adjacent gardens. Even on an overcast day, the gardens are magnificent.