“Little known” to me, anyway, and probably most other expats moving to London; locals probably have to memorize all this for their secondary GCSE exams. 🙂 If you’re researching your international relocation to London, you might not know much about Kensington Palace or particularly care, but I find it worthwhile to bring up considering the high quantity of Americans moving to London who ask our London Relocation agents to search for London apartments on the city’s west side. And on this west side, spanning from Kensington and Notting Hill on one end to Knightsbridge and Mayfair on the other (with popular neighborhoods like South Kensington and Chelsea nearby in between), Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park comprise a prominent green space in west London. So, located on the west side in Kensington Gardens is the royal residence of Kensington Palace.
Modern generations know it as the home of Princess Diana, who continued living in apartments there even after her divorce from Charles. This is where a sea of bouquets were laid before the palace gates upon Diana’s tragic death. And though Diana’s apartments are no longer available (serving instead as offices), Kensington Palace (or “KP” as Diana called it) is where Prince William will be bringing his own wife Kate to live as Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This begins to answer the question my friend and I had asked recently on touring the Enchanted Palace exhibit there: “Does anyone live here now?”
Before I get to that, let me mention who has lived there before. The palace began from an early 1600s mansion where King William III and Mary II took on residence in 1689 and expanded it with the help of Sir Christopher Wren (I love that the Historic Royal Palaces website calls this a “Wrenovation“). Queen Anne next lived there following her succession to the throne in 1702; she commissioned extensive work on the gardens and the construction of the present-day Orangery, where the public can visit for afternoon tea. Kings George I and II were also to live at KP during the 18th century, and George II is rumored to still haunt the King’s Gallery there…woooOOOOoooo… During his reign, his wife Queen Catherine had first opened the gardens to the public, but only one weekend day, and a formal dress code was enforced. Where historical monarchs go, KP is perhaps relatively better known as the childhood home of Queen Victoria, whose bedroom can still be seen with its original furnishings.
These days, as you can see from the handy image below (compliments of the Daily Mail Online), the KP complex continues to house members of royalty that get significantly less face-time than the ones bombarded by the media when they’re out and about making official visits on behalf of the Queen. As the caption states, residents include the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke of Kent, and Prince Charles’s private secretary, Sir Michael Peat. And, as perhaps the most random and least known fact of all among London expats, the stillborn baby of a friend of Diana’s still lies in an unmarked grave in the walled garden.
When your relocation company (oh, please let it be London Relocation!) has placed you in a palace of your own, you would be remiss not to pay Kensington Palace a visit. Unoccupied portions of it are available to the public, and you can enjoy a nice, shockingly quiet walk down the tree-lined street of Kensington Palace Gardens—it’s closed to public vehicles, but not pedestrians, and here you will find the wealthiest of London’s wealthy and get to view KP from another angle. Until then, good luck with your relocation in London!