Royal Home with Elaborate Rooms and Changing Exhibits
Kensington Palace is a private Royal Home and permanent visitor attraction of the Royal Collection. Try on historical clothes, enjoy afternoon tea in The Orangery and see special exhibitions. Expect special events relating to the late Queen's life for 2023.
The Palace is a vast complex of buildings including highly secure private apartments. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Wills and Kate) live in a 20-room mansion within the property, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank live in a cottage in the grounds. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent also live at Kensington Palace.
The party palace
A brief history of Kensington Palace
Sir Christopher Wren - The great architect, astronomer, mathematician and builder of St Paul's Cathedral was responsible for upgrading Nottingham House into a palace. The year was 1689, King William III and Queen Mary II (the only joint monarchs - think William and Mary College) were on the throne, and Britain was on the brink of greatness. Work on the palace gathered pace, and unfortunately, a workman was killed in an accident. The Queen describes the upsetting experience as humbling.
Kensington became a party palace; an era began of magnificent balls and entertainment lasting into the small hours. Attendees numbered over a thousand on some occasions. Unlike many Royal marriages, William and Mary were faithful companions; they loved each other dearly. Queen Mary died of smallpox in 1694, and the large scale parties ended.
Later, Queen Anne invested in a 'greenhouse'. Sir Christopher Wren designed the greenhouse, so it ended up a rather handsome building with elegant pillars and carving by Grinling Gibbons, the expert carver who worked on many palaces and St Paul's Cathedral. The Queen loved her greenhouse or Orangery as it becomes to be known.
The next era, under the Georgian's, saw the Palace enlarged and filled with art and beautiful furniture. The Kings' painted' staircase was a lavish addition. Queen Victoria spent her childhood at Kensington; her overprotective mother, the Duchess of Kent locked her away from other children and developed a 'system' for the future monarch. Discover more in the Victoria; A Royal Childhood exhibition.
In the late 20th Century, William and Harry grew up here, moved away and bounced back. It seem to be convenient and secure accommodation for Royalty. Kensington is a home with history, and we hope you enjoy your tour. We offer a VIP tour of Kensington Palace, a fascinating experience taken before or after the public have access.
The King's Apartments
Etiquette dictated the layout and design of the Royal apartments. It will seem strange for you as a visitor. There is a filter system with social hurdles you are obliged to partake. The first challenge is the King's Staircase; the painted characters on the walls give a message. You must dress appropriately, or security will cut your visit short. If you pass, the assembled cast of characters seem to urge you on. Next, we have the Presence Chamber; courtiers are mixing, and there is a chance to be presented to the King, then Privy Chamber, Drawing Rooms, each space with its social entry code.
The Queen's Apartments
The English traditions were that monarchs had a His and Her suite of rooms to entertain, sleep, and gamble separately. Similar in layout with similar rules. Queen Mary adored Japanese and Chinese porcelain, and she filled rooms with it. Dining with her husband usually took place in the Queen's apartments. Interestingly they had simple tastes and would dine on fish and beer.
London is famous for its glorious parks. Kensington Gardens is one of eight Royal Parks and covers 265 acres. Hyde Park is attached and combined they cover an area of 615 acres. The Round Pond is an excellent place to come face to face with an angry swan, and the Lady Diana Memorial playground is superb and has a Peter Pan theme.
J.M. Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan lived near the park, became friends with the Davies Family. The Davies boys inspired him to create the stories of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. They would play Peter Pan games in the park. The Davies Boys lost there mother and father, and Barrie became their guardian. Barrie legacy lives on; he gave the Peter Pan rights to the Great Ormond Street hospital for children upon his death. Activities in the park include tennis, horse riding and boating.
Touring and accommodation
The best places to stay in London are Mayfair, St James, and the Royal Borough of Kensington. If you are considering day tours from London, staying further west in Kensington makes sense. Harrods and Hyde Park are close. Staying in Mayfair and St James will give you easy access to Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and high-end shops. The theatre district called the ‘West End’ is a short hop too. Here is our recommended collection of the Best Four and Five-Star Hotel in London.
Our Tour Designers are here to customise your private tours of London and day tours from London. Tell us about you and your interests, and we will create a tailor-made tour. Our Royal Tour of London can include a tour inside Kensington Palace. However, we can tailor a tour of London for you.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.
The Palace in the Park
Tour the Palace and Enjoy Kensington Gardens
- VIP Tour Available
- Rotating Exhibitions
- Working Royal Palace
- Life Through a Royal Lens (March 21st onwards)
- Specialist Guided Tours Available
Kensington Palace Gate Detail
The Prince Albert Memorial
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK, EU and US office-based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.