Official British Royal Residences: Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace, earlier known as Nottingham House, has its origins in a Jacobean mansion built in 1605. Shortly after William and Mary assumed the throne as joint monarchs in 1689, they began searching for a residence better situated for the comfort of the asthmatic William; Whitehall Palace, the then-customary London residence of monarchs, was too near the River Thames for William’s comfort.
In the summer of 1689, William and Mary bought Kensington Palace from Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and a Secretary of State, for £20,000. They then instructed Sir Christopher Wren,Surveyor of the King’s Works to begin an immediate expansion of the house. Keeping the shell of the structure intact, Wren proceeded to add a three-story pavilion at each of the four corners, providing more accommodation for the King and Queen and their attendants, as well as a new entrance on the west, the Great Court, a narrow block of rooms to the south, with kitchens to the north and a clock tower surmounting an archway to the west of the Great Court.
Other significant expansions and alterations soon followed, and for the next seventy years, Kensington Palace was the favoured residence of British monarchs, although the official seat of the Court was and remains at St. James’s, which has not been the actual royal residence in London since the 17th century.
Queen Mary II died of smallpox in Kensington Palace in 1694. In 1702, William suffered a fall from a horse at Hampton Court and was brought to Kensington Palace, where he died shortly after. After William III’s death, the palace became the residence of Queen Anne. Sir John Vanbrugh designed the Orangery for her in 1704, and a magnificent baroque parterre 30 acre garden was laid out by Henry Wise, whose nursery was nearby at Brompton. Anne also had Christopher Wren complete the extensions that William and Mary had begun, resulting in the section known as the Queen’s Apartments, with the Wren staircase, known as “The Queen’s Entrance”, which currently serves as the exit point, with shallow steps so that Queen Anne could walk down gracefully.
George I spent lavishly on new royal apartments from 1718. William Kent painted a staircase and some ceilings. In 1722 he designed the Cupola Room, the principal state room, with feigned coffering in its high coved ceiling; in 1819, the Cupola Room was the site of the christening of Princess Alexandrina Victoria, who had been born at Kensington, in the apartments of the Duke and Duchess of Kent (the actual room being what is now the North Drawing Room).
The last reigning monarch to use Kensington Palace was George II. For the royal consort, Charles Bridgeman swept away the outmoded parterres and redesigned Kensington Gardens in a form that is still recognizable today: his remaining features are The Serpentine, the basin called the Round Pond, and the Broad Walk.
After George II’s death in the palace in 1760, Kensington Palace was only used for lesser royalty, including the young daughter of the Duke of Kent who was living in the Palace with her widowed mother when she was told of her accession to the throne as Queen Victoria in 1837. Queen Mary (grandmother of the present Queen) was born at Kensington Palace in 1867. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Teck, were living at the palace.Edward VIII called the palace an “aunt heap” because of the number of royal relatives residing there.
In 1981, apartments 8 and 9 were combined to create the London residence of the newly married Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, and it remained the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales after her divorce until her death. Her sons, Princes William and Harry, went to local nursery and pre-preparatory schools in Notting Hill, which is a short drive away, and were raised in Kensington Palace, which was a “children’s paradise” according to Andrew Morton, with long passageways, a helicopter pad, and many outdoor gardens, including one on the roof where the family spent many hours.
Diana, Princess of Wales’s coffin spent its last night in London at the Palace, before the Princess’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997.
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Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, presents the Fellowship BAFTA to Dame Helen Mirren for her outstanding contribution to British film | February 16, 2014
On Sunday, the Duke of Cambridge presented Dame Helen Mirren with the BAFTA Fellowship Award. Then on Monday, she talks about the moment with the Duchess of Cambridge at a reception for BAFTA at Buckingham Palace.
Helen Mirren: "Your husband called me granny last night."
Kate: *giggles* “I know.”
The Duchess of Cambridge revealed that Prince William had asked her whether she thought his joke about the actress was appropriate.
The Duchess of Cambridge + Curly Hair