Want to check out some royal digs while in London? Then make sure you head over to Kensington Palace near Hyde Park. The residence became the home to many royal families in 1689, when William III purchased the mansion from the Earl of Nottingham, who was his secretary of state. It was the birthplace of and home to Queen Victoria. It was the favorite residence of the royal family until George III moved over to the bigger house at Buckingham Palace in 1760.
The home is still the residence of several members of the royal family, while others have offices here. But they allow the common folk to come enjoy their finery - for a fee, of course. The building itself is stunning. There is a long walkway where you can enjoy the formal gardens. When we were here, that seemed to be the favorite of children who were running and wallowing all over the ground. Admission includes an audio tour. The cassettes come in several languages. You can tour at your leisure. Here you will see furniture, jewels, photographs, and personal items from the royal families who have resided here. The tapes are very lengthy. After a while, we found it easier and quicker to read the program guide descriptions. One of the favorite displays here the collection of royal ceremonial dresses. You can see the room where Queen Victoria was born and baptized. Make sure to check out the state rooms, which have a very large and impressive collection of 17th-century paintings.
Anyone who loves Princess Di should make sure to put this on his or her list. Downstairs, you can view a collection of the late-princess’ dresses. I noticed that the mood of the other rooms were a collection of people chatting away and ohhing and ahhing at the royal finery. Here, I noticed the mood was somber and people spoke in whispers. Many people, myself included, had to dab their eyes on more than one occasion. In fact, by the time I left, I was bawling. Though she has been gone now for almost 8 years, the memories of this beautiful lady are still here. People come here as a way to somehow be close to the People’s Princess. The black wrought-iron gates trimmed in gold on the outside was where so many people came to pay their respects when this beautiful life was taken tragically in August of 1997. This was the gate where millions of flowers were left to the late princess.
The palace is open from 10am to 5pm daily. Admission is £10 per person. Credit cards are accepted. On the way out, you do go through a gift shop (I am sure you are as shocked as I was). Here you can find guides, books, tourist goodies, postcards, and plenty of Di-related articles. You can visit them on the web at www.royal.gov.uk or www.hrp.org.uk.