Kensington Palace | Highlights
A trip to Kensington Palace is nothing short of spectacular. Historic sites and memorabilia have been renewed and make for great viewing, while high-tech innovations have also been implemented to provide visitors with the best experience. Learn about the history, marvel at the royals’ way of life, and walk through stunning floral gardens at Kensington Palace.
Luxurious rooms, classic paintings, grandiose apartments, historic items, lush gardens and interesting exhibitions make the Kensington Palace in London one of the top attractions for locals and curious tourists alike. The Palace attracts thousands of tourists every year.
The King's State Apartments
The Kensington Palace Apartments attract many intrigued viewers from around the world. The grandest of these apartments is the King’s State Apartments, which contain grandiose state rooms, the Presence Chamber, the Cupola Room, the King’s Drawing Room, and the King’s Gallery. Most of these state rooms don’t have the typical furniture you would expect but are filled with works of art instead.
The first attraction that you encounter is the King’s Staircase, a staircase known for the paintings that depict the life and court of George I. These paintings have surprising characters such as the artist himself - William Kent, the King’s servants, Peter ‘the wild boy’ - a feral child, and a lot more. Once you’re up these stairs, you can roam around the rooms and admire everything on display.
The King’s Gallery
The largest state room in the King’s State Apartments is the Gallery, which was transformed by King George I in 1725. It has since been enhanced by artist William Kent, who painted the 7 huge ceiling canvases with scenes from the life of Ulysses.
Although the room currently showcases the best paintings from the Royal Collection, it has been host to many intimate royal moments. When it was first built, the room was used by William III to meet spies and plan military campaigns.
The Queen's State Apartments
The second of the Kensington Palace Apartments was built for Queen Mary, when she and her husband moved into the royal residence. The Queen along with the royal consorts enjoyed their days in the Queen’s State Apartments, which features a Queen’s Staircase, Gallery, Closet, Dining Room and Drawing Room.
While the Queen’s State Apartments is not as grand as the King’s, it still provides an intriguing view into the life of a royal. The sites are filled with stories about Queen Mary’s daily life, from strolling through the gardens to relaxing at the Gallery.
Diana: Designing for a Princess
Princess Diana was and might still be one of the most beloved British royals. The Princess of Wales lived in Kensington Palace before her passing and in her memory, an exhibition showcasing her dress and the designing process behind it was opened in 2019.
The exhibition displays Diana’s Evening Gown by Catherine Walker’ - a dress designed by Walker that the Princess wore on multiple occasions and ‘Sketches by David Sassoon’ - a series of sketches for by designer Sassoon. The sketches include designs for romantic outfits, working outfits, a going-away outfit for her honeymoon, and a white chiffon maternity dress. A lot of these sketches have comments from Princess Diana herself, making for intriguing viewing.
Victoria: A Royal Childhood
The Kensington Palace apartments and surrounding areas were the home of Princess Victoria, who grew up to become one of the most famous and influential British monarchs. This exhibition was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her birth in 2019 and features some quirky items from her early years, including her doll house and a scrapbook by German governess Baroness Lehzen, along with interesting stories.
Letters from the Duke of Kent’s letter on the day of Victoria’s birth are also on display while curators have spent years to recreate rooms from her childhood. There are also several artefacts from her first day as Queen, including the first document she signed.
Victoria: Woman and Crown
Find out how Queen Victoria balanced her responsibilities as a wife, mother and reigning monarch through a unique exhibition. The displays show the Queen’s love for India through stories and the centerpiece of the exhibition - excerpts from Victoria's personal diaries carefully inscribed in Urdu.
Dresses from the Queen’s wardrobe, such as a simple cotton petticoat and a pair of fashionable silver boots, are on display and provide a stark contrast to the black wardrobe she preferred in later years. The Queen wore black or dark dresses following her husband Albert’s death in 1861, as a public sign of her grief.
The well known Sunken Garden was created in 1908. The classic garden showcase ornamental flower beds surrounding a pond with fountains. The garden is often one of the final stops on the tour after exploring the Kensington Palace Apartments. Beautiful rotational flower displays are utilized throughout the year so there is never a dull sight for visitors.
April to August see vibrant, colourful and exotic flowers such as geraniums, cannas, and begonias while spring sees the garden displaying tulips, wallflowers and pansies bloom.
The Kensington Palace Apartments are surrounded by 270 acres of gardens featuring stunning flowers and monuments. Once considered part of the neighbouring Hyde Park, the Kensington Gardens were separated in 1689 by William III and Mary II. While the gardens were originally Dutch-style, following monarchs have added their own touches with the Orangery being a famous addition by Queen Anne in 1704.
Visitors can walk through the public areas of the gardens, including the Cradle Walk - a pathway whose sides are covered by an arc made from twine. During summer, the archway has equally-spaced gaps so visitors can comfortably view the Sunken Garden or the southern gardens while being protected from the scorching sun.
- Maps - While there are no audio guides on offer, Kensington Palace provides maps so visitors can explore on their own and use the information displays at the sites. There are maps in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. The English maps can be downloaded online.
- Accessibility - To ensure that disabled people have the best possible Kensington Palace tour, they are allowed to bring along adult carers via a complimentary ticket. British Sign Language (BSL) Tours are available for certain exhibitions while visually impaired visitors can utilize the Describer Tours.
- Wi-Fi - Free Wi-Fi is provided inside the Palace. Simply follow the on-screen prompts to avail the service.
- Left Luggage - Large bags, luggage and folded down buggies can be left at the Left Luggage & Business Reception so travelers can tour comfortably. The service is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis as there is limited room.