what have you been up to lately? I’ve been playing the tourist. Read on:
Although I had been to London several times, I had never visited a royal residence before. I always wanted to, but my friends either weren’t interested or we just didn’t have the time to fit it all in. There is just so much to see and do here!
But last month, I went to two in a week. First stop was the Tower of London and then, a couple of days later, Kensington Palace. Best part, I didn’t have to pay for the tickets. A friend had given me and my flatmate a pass that was valid for both palaces. Yay!
Kensington Palace doesn’t really look like much from the outside. The dark brick walls are a little too austere for me. But inside, it is as gorgeous and opulent as you imagine every royal residence to be.
Unfortunately, it also very dark, so I didn’t bother with pictures. They would have come out horribly anyway. You’ll have to make do with the pictures of the gardens. The weather that day was glorious (more than 30°C!), so we really enjoyed strolling through the enormous park.
But it was equally pleasant to enjoy a respite from the heat inside the walls of the Palace. The area open to visitors is not too big, but gorgeous. There is a lot to see. I could have spent a whole hour in every room, admiring every little detail. The roof, curtains, walls… everything is so beautifully decorated!
Visitors have access to the King’s State Apartments, which were used for meetings and audiences. It’s where courtiers and favourites went to seek patronage and where the royals entertained their guests. There is still a throne-like chair in it. It belonged to George II’s son, Frederick.
The Queen’s State Apartments, which were created for Mary II, are luxurious too, but cosier. These were the rooms were the royals lived, took their meals outside of the public eye, entertained their closest friends, and slept in. It was their “little” home inside the Palace.
But the most illustrious inhabitant of Kensington Palace was Queen Victoria. It was here she lived before becoming Queen. The exhibition Victoria’s Revealed gives us a glimpse of her long life, from her childhood, to her marriage, and widowhood.
It features displays of personal objects, shown in the rooms where she once lived, accompanied by the words she penned in her personal diary and letters. It was touching to read how she felt about her husband Albert, and see all the toys that belonged to her children.
Despite the opulent setting, it was quite an intimate exhibition, and the highlight of the day for me. State Rooms are very impressive, but it’s the quiet domestic life behind closed doors that I find most interesting. Don’t you, too?
Instead, I was a bit disappointed by Fashion Rules, a small exhibition which features dresses worn by the Queen, her sister Princess Margaret, and Diana, Princess of Wales. The dresses are absolutely stunning, and well-worth a look.
The Queen’s are conservative but regal. Princess Diana’s are very stylish. But Margaret’s are the best. They are surprisingly modern and still look fashionable today. My problem with the exhibition was the small size. There was only 15 or so dresses.
My flatmate was relived. He’s not really into fashion. But I would have loved to see more. These women had, and still have, huge wardrobes, but we’re only given the smallest, shortest glimpse inside of them. *sighs*
Kensington Place is well worth a visit. Or two. Or three. The gardens are free all year round, but if you want to get a look inside, go in winter. From November to February, tickets cost £16.50. In summer, you’ll have to pay a pound more. And buy your ticket online. It’ll save you £1.10.
Have you ever been to Kensington Palace?
What I’m Reading Now
365 Reasons to be Proud to Be a Londoner: Magical Moments in London’s History by Richard Happer
The title says it all really, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. The book features 365 historical events and people that made London special. One for every day of the year. Each entry is short (only a few lines), but concise, straight-to-the-point, and funny. This is not a book for academics (at least not for those academics without a sense of humour). It’s aimed at the casual reader who wants to know more about the British capital in a fun way that won’t put her to sleep after a couple of minutes. If you love London and its history, pick up a copy at Amazon.
Strobing made easy – Makeup And Beauty Blog
Revealed! 10 (other) beauty uses of micellar water – Beautifille
3 chic ponytail tutorials to lift your everyday hair game – Hair Romance
Let’s stop pretending the internet isn’t “real” life – Forever Amber