Kensington Palace State Apartments

Kensington Palace is now both a palace open to the public while still home to members of the royal family. Built about 1605 and purchased for £20,000 in 1689 by William III and Mary II when the Kensington Palace was known as Nottingham House. William instructed Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor of the King's Works from 1669 to 1718, to improve the house immediately.

Kensington’s State Apartments were given over in 1911-12 to the newly founded London Museum for the display of objects relating to the City of London and royal relics. Queen Mary had taken a keen interest in the museum. And it was she who managed to persuade George V (1910-36) that it could 'be accommodated, at least temporarily, in the State Rooms at Kensington Palace'.

Today, Kensington continues its long history as a residence for members of the Royal Family. Princesses still live around Princesses’ Court. The best known resident in recent years was Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-97) who occupied apartments in the north-west part of the palace from 1981 to 1997.

Since 2013 the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have made Kensington Palace their home.


Look out for…

  • The Glorious Georges
  • The King's staircase
  • The Queen's State Apartments
  • The King's State Apartments
  • The Sunken garden

Did you know?…

  • The second-oldest reigning monarch (of 63 years), Queen Victoria, spent her childhood in the palace
  • A 1697 inventory documented that Mary II owned over 800 items of Chinese Porcelain
  • To celebrate the arrival of the German King George I at Kensington he ordered a bonfire, six barrels of strong beer and over 300 bottles of wine
  • Composer Handel was invited to the palace to perform for King George II, who was such a fan that he gave Handel British citizenship (originally he was from Germany, like the King himself)
  • A book of original Leondardo da Vinci drawings were miraculously found in the palace in 1778 and sent to Windsor Castle
  • Princess Louise allowed injured soldiers hurt in the Great War to rest and recover in her private apartments in 1914

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All information is drawn from or provided by the museums themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.