Royal Residences: Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace in London is a working Royal residence. Of great historical importance, Kensington Palace was the favourite residence of successive sovereigns until 1760. It was also the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria.

Kensington Palace today

Today Kensington Palace contains the offices and London residences of The Prince and Princess of Wales, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Historic parts of Kensington Palace are open to the public. Kensington Palace is also home to the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, with items of Royal, ceremonial and court dress dating from the 18th century to the present day.

History of Kensington Palace

In 1689 William III bought the Jacobean mansion Kensington Palace, originally known as Nottingham House from his Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham, and commissioned Christopher Wren to extend and improve the house. Until the death of George II in 1760, Kensington Palace was the favourite residence of successive sovereigns.

Queen Victoria was born and brought up in the Palace and news of her accession in 1837 was brought to her there by the Lord Chamberlain and the Archbishop of Canterbury; however Victoria chose to reign from Buckingham Palace. It had been expected that Victoria would reign from either Kensington or St James's Palace but almost immediately she moved to Buckingham Palace and never again stayed at Kensington Palace.

Queen Mary (grandmother of the present Queen) was born at Kensington Palace in 1867. The Duke of Edinburgh stayed there in his grandmother's apartment in 1947 between his engagement and his marriage.

Queen Victoria spent her childhood at Kensington Palace, having been born there in 1819.  It was at Kensington Palace that Victoria learnt in 1837 that her uncle had died and she was now Queen.