The Home of Royalty

The Home of Royalty

#London is a haven for royal fanatics. One of the most fascinating things you can do is tour the #royal residences, including Kensington Palace. Home to a young Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth's late sister, Princess Margaret, the palace is filled with #history and charm. Take a guided tour to get access to the #culture of the monarchy but don't expect a Prince George sighting.


Kensington Palace TourLondon

She stares down at me from the picture on the wall, smiling, a portrait of a happier time. A white dress; a thin figure; short blonde hair; pearly teeth; and dazzling eyes. This is the Princess Diana who the people remember.

Diana, the People's Princess, welcomes me to Kensington

In a room full of portraits here at Kensington Palace in London, hers draws the most attention. It’s not surprising, her presence here always did.

You only have to cast your mind back to the hundreds of thousands of flowers placed at the gate outside after her death to see how the building and the woman were so intrinsically linked. Once she became a royal, she never truly stopped being one. 

Once she became a royal, she never truly stopped being one

Kensington Palace may have been her sanctuary at times but it was also her prison.

A view of the palace from the expansive gardens

There are tributes to the Princess Diana here; the portrait, a collection of her dresses, modern wallpaper created with a sketching of her. But, although we may associate the palace with her, many imposing women have come before.

Diana's isn't the only portrait on display 
          
The tour includes a look at some of the famous gowns

Before Diana it was Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister. She used Kensington Palace as her residence and would host parties with some of the world’s most glamorous and interesting celebrities. 

She used Kensington Palace as her residence and would host parties with some of the world’s most glamorous and interesting celebrities

She was a slightly controversial figure, perhaps more interested in socializing than official duties, but it helped raise the status of the building in the eyes of royal watchers. King Edward VIII (her uncle) had once previously called it the “aunt heap” because of the number of lesser royals who had been given rooms there.

Outside the gates, waiting for the tour to start

These are the things I’m learning on my tour of the palace with City Wonders, a guided walk of the building and the gardens (oh, plus high tea!). 

from  $87

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guards

ActiveCulture
 Buckingham Palace, London, United Kingdom
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It’s easy enough to visit the palace on your own and buy a ticket, but I like hearing the stories. My guide, Alison, seems to be able to answer any tricky question I throw her. (“What does the Queen see when she looks out her window at Buckingham Palace?,” I throw in at one point.)

          
Queen Victoria welcomes us to Kensington Palace
         
The details are why you take the tour
The palace is still a private residence

Most of Kensington Palace is private and you can’t access it. The latest residents, William, Catherine, George and Harry, include the second, third and fourth in line for the throne. It’s actually surprising there isn’t more security (although it might just be hidden well). 

The latest residents include the second, third and fourth in line for the throne

The areas the public are able to visit are essentially a museum made up of some of the older and more historical rooms. Don’t expect to see Diana’s bedroom, for instance.

Everywhere you look, a Queen
Palace treasures for all to see
A collection of wooden chairs on display

The history is just as interesting as the stories you read in the magazines these days, though. The most imposing figure presented through the museum is Queen Victoria, the longest-reining British monarch (for now). She was living in Kensington Palace when she became queen at the age of 18. Although she moved to Buckingham Palace after her coronation, the rooms where she grew up have now been dedicated to her life.

Portraits of royalty through the generations line the walls
Tour supervisors
What a dress!

On display are fascinating items like childhood toys, presents and even her wedding dress. 

On display are fascinating items like childhood toys, presents and even her wedding dress

Photographs show her decline in mood after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. My guide, Alison, explains that Victoria blamed her eldest son for her husband’s death because he got sick after travelling to confront him about a scandal.

You start to wonder who touched these treasures

The Kensington Palace tour is fascinating but ultimately I find it to be more about the people and their stories than the building itself. Many of the rooms have been decorated with modern artwork or modified to be used as exhibition halls. 

Many of the rooms have been decorated with modern artwork

You don’t get a real sense of what it is like today but you do come away with an excellent understanding of some of the people who once called it home.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of City Wonders Tours but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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