As part of our whistle stop tour of the London tourist hotspots we headed to the Kensington Palace Tour. This gorgeous palace is on the edge of Hyde Park. Easily located just a short walk from Kensington Palace tube station. The iconic gates of the palace were embedded in my childhood memories. They formed the focus for the public outcry of mourning when Princess Diana sadly passed away in 1997.
Kensington Palace had been Diana’s home. Indeed, many of the Royal Family live here today including the Princes William and Harry. Why wouldn’t you? It’s lovely and handy for Harrods and the park! Imogen was convinced she would bump into Kate pegging baby Charlotte’s washing out and had many false sightings on the Kensington Palace Tour.
Kensington Palace Tour
Entry to Kensington Palace was slick and well organised. It was difficult to get lost and basically followed a one way system. We were meeting friends over at Whole Foods for lunch so I was worried that it might be huge but it really wasn’t. Or should I say the bit that you see isn’t huge. There’s pretty much a full on village of houses in the grounds that are out of bounds. The tour lasted around 1 hour and a half. A nice touch was that the children were handed a kid friendly map and activity sheet which kept them occupied. The little crowns on the signs were a nice regal touch too!
Kensington Palace Inside
The tour starts at the King’s staircase which was handpainted by William Kent in 1724. The staircase depicts Court life at the time which looked a hoot, plenty of food and drink at this bash! It’s really stunning and sets the scene that this palace was a party pad back in it’s time! Check out this lovely Diana wallpaper just outside of the loos.
Up through to the State Rooms with the Grand Chambers, where visitors held a kind of ‘audience with’ the King. Queen’s state rooms were more ornately decorated and housed a massive porcelain collection. We took our time to have a look around, but I know where my kids are concerned they find historic homes a little boring. They had also spied an ice-cream stall from one of the Queen’s windows!
Kensington Palace tour concluded with an exhibition showing many of Diana’s iconic dresses. From her sensible ‘sloan ranger’ tweed days onto her blingy Gianna Versace dresses as she found her style. Her relationship with the designers Katherine Walker and Elizabeth Emmanuel (who designed THAT wedding dress) was explored and they really understood the need for the clothes to be comfortable and stylish. Again the children and Alan found this a little boring, but I loved it.
It was time to head outside and find a seat for that all important Ice cream. 2 cones and 2 coffees came to a tenner, which considering we were sat in the grounds of Kensington Palace I didn’t think was too painful.
Who Lives in Kensington Palace?
Kensington Palace Gardens
Before we headed back to Kensington High Street we had a little time to explore the grounds of Kensignton Palace. There is no charge to enter the grounds so if you are passing it’s worth a pop in.
Kensington’s Sunken garden is blocked off to guests but there are places to sit on the edge. This Dutch style garden was brimming with tulips and loved the palm trees.
The girls had read on their pamphlet that the ‘golden gates’ had in them a Rose, Thistle, Shamrock and Daffodil to spot, so we headed back to track them down. Some American tourists asked what we were looking for and we let them in on the secret.
Overall we really enjoyed Kensington Palace. This was a new one for all of us and it satisfied my interest in history, with a lovely outdoor space for the girls to enjoy.
For details about tickets and pricing visit http://www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace/visit-us/tickets-and-prices/#gs.2FO9l3g