As promised, here’s a report on our visit to Kensington Palace, the palace of princesses, princes, dukes, duchesses, kings and queens. The current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry live in the apartments to the left of the grand façade.
And of course it is famous for being the home of Princess Diana. Who could forget the tributes left at the gates after her death?
We wanted to come to see this!
And so did so many others. Tickets for April and May are already sold out. We couldn’t believe the lines to get into the palace – even though we had prebooked tickets over a month ago, we first stood in line to get into the Palace.
The palace guides were all so nice and even apologetic. “Maybe because it is so nice out? We are having even more people!” one guide told us. Another guide asked us where we were from, and then thanked us for bringing the weather. “You must have brought it from Texas! We never have weather like this so early!”
As you go towards the special Princess Diana exhibit, you get to pass through some of the amazing rooms in Ken Pal. This was the palace where the future Queen Victoria was born (no one ever thought she’d be queen!) but before that, it was the palace of William and Mary and Queen Anne. Gorgeous, no?
Throughout these rooms were amazing outfits of the William/Mary/Anne period made of PAPER.
Everyone loved talking about them. Some people even “tried” them on. Oh if only my waist were truly this size!
Here is one of the actual mantuas worn at court. Can you believe?! According to the museum label, “Mantuas were a symbol of wealth and prestige. Only the most wealthy could afford to buy so much of the costly textiles.” This one is all silver embroidery. A darling older lady looking at this one said to me, “Imagine ironing that!”
The most gorgeous gold-filled rooms are in Ken Pal.
And check out the ghostly shadows! They moved!
It was so atmospheric! And have you ever wondered what it might be like to sit on a throne in an Audience Chamber?
It is good to be Queen!
Then the Diana line started. First it was inside. Everyone had fun looking around these rooms and out the windows (or on their phones!) as we waited.
Love the way the Royals collected and displayed their costly china from Japan and China. Wow!
And then we moved to the line outside. At the start of this line, the nice guides told us very apologetically we had 45 minutes to go until we got to the actual exhibit.
But standing in line (and sometimes sitting on the benches) was fun. I loved checking out what people were wearing.
We met a nice couple from Connecticut and learned a lot about them. And – as Kim said – the nice thing was that once we got into the exhibit we weren’t crammed in. They were carefully timing it so visitors really could move around and look at the dresses with no problem.
First we saw some of her dresses from her early days of being in the spotlight.
I remember this from seeing a few of her dresses when they came to Austin – they are lovely like this hanging up –
but they are nothing compared to when she was wearing them!
She did have so much grace and charm. And the clothes definitely did not wear her. She wore the clothes.
We loved seeing her honeymoon outfit. Remember this?
They made it in two sizes for her. She chose the larger one because she wanted to be comfortable tromping around Balmoral.
She really collaborated with designers. We saw some of their design sketches with fabric samples, and many sketches had comments from Diana written on them.
Next stage of her life: princess. Kim’s absolute favorite gown is her Elvis gown. They featured it as we were waiting in the line to get into the palace. Stunning! It was created by one of her favorite designers, Catherine Walker. They had such a neat collaboration.
And here it is in person.
And who could forget this?
The John Travolta dress she wore in the White House!
There was also a display of what she called her “working suits.” She wanted bright colors, especially when visiting children. And she wanted to be able to hold them with no fuss.
This is a beautifully tailored, non-fussy Catherine Walker ensemble – a perfect working suit!
And then there were the dresses from her last few years (she was just 36 when she died!). This was the most gorgeous display with beautiful photos of her all around.
So simple and elegant!
Two months before she died, there was an auction of her dresses.
This is the stunning dress she wore for that event.
What an amazing presence.
And Kensington Palace is so beautifully designed to show the lives of all the people who have lived here, from Victoria (Victoria rooms closed for refurbishment: must return!) to Princess Margaret, Diana, and now William and Kate.
The wallpaper by the loos is perhaps a bit over the top – designed by an artist in 2011 from iconic photos of Diana . . .
But look at what they’ve made outside to commemorate the 20th (20!) anniversary of Diana’s death.
It seems very fitting.
Another living monument to her.