Visiting Kensington Palace is a wonderful experience – made even more so when you know exactly what highlights to explore.
If you're in London visiting Kensington, an excursion to Kensington Palace will no doubt make it on to your itinerary. The palace provides a unique glimpse into the lives and histories of the British Royal Family as far back as the 17th century, and contemporary princes, dukes and duchesses still call some sections of the royal residence home.
If you plan on visiting Kensington Palace, make sure you know what to explore so you don’t miss any of the highlights.
The King’s Staircase
Presumably, when you want guests and dignitaries to be suitably impressed as they arrive for an audience, you don’t want them to have to wander through drab, non-descript corridors. You'd no doubt want them to realise the wealth and grandeur of your reign – and that's exactly what William Kent achieved when he adorned the King’s Staircase with a vast collection of stunning Georgian paintings. The paintings depict a vivid picture of life in the royal court of the 18th century, and are a definite highlight of a tour of Kensington Palace.
The King’s State Apartments
Once you've made your way up the King’s Staircase, the next things you'll encounter are the various apartments where, in times gone by, the reigning monarch would receive the dignitaries and courtiers seeking an audience. These are known as the King’s Apartments.
The impressive Presence Chamber is where monarchs would greet visitors from their gilded throne, accompanied by a generous amount of pomp and ceremony - as the situation required. The Privy and Cupola Chambers were spaces for entertaining guests in a less ceremonial, but nonetheless very regal, setting. And finally, the King’s Drawing Room is where courtiers visiting Kensington Palace would crowd around the monarchs attempting to gain favour. Today, these apartments can be hired out for various functions, including weddings.
The King’s Gallery contains a large collection of paintings of monarchs past, and the various busts and furnishings make it wonderful place to soak up the rich history of the palace. The gallery has a unique and very appealing aesthetic, especially if you catch the sun coming through the windows.
The Queen’s State Apartments
The Queen’s State Apartments were designed to be smaller than the King's, with a greater emphasis on privacy and intimacy (although certainly not sacrificing their regal opulence). The Queen’s Gallery is the largest of the Queen’s apartments, and it is similar to the King’s Gallery in that it is well-adorned with paintings and other royal artefacts. The Queen’s Closet and the Queen’s Drawing Room are likewise rooms for entertaining guests - each filled with historical paintings and sculptures. The Queen’s Bedroom provided a place for the ruling queen to entertain guests in a cosier, more private setting, and the Queen’s Dining Room is likewise a less formal but equally beautiful place where the King and Queen would enjoy simple meals in each other’s company.
The Palace Gardens
The lovely gardens of Kensington Palace are the perfect place to lose yourself in a beautiful fusion of nature and architecture. The rotational flower displays of the Sunken Garden and the Formal Gardens are a delight to explore, while the tunnels of the Cradle Walk provide the perfect shady way to enjoy the gardens during summer. By the way, don’t confuse the Palace’s Gardens with the 'Kensington Palace Gardens', which is a street nearby with some of the most mind-bogglingly expensive real estate prices in the world.
So if you're visiting Kensington Palace , make sure you don't miss any of the above aspects and you'll get a well-rounded historical overview of this most important royal residence.