The Historic house, former home of Victoria and Diana, reopens on the 26th March following a £12 million major renovation project by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces. Chic-Londres went for a preview and the result is amazing: stylish, entertaining and interesting, with a new design that wittily blends historical features and contemporary touches. Expect a total transformation, with new public gardens and new exhibitions centred on Queen Victoria and Princess Diana, the Palace’s most famous residents, and a complete renovation of the State rooms. A great outing… and now it’s even free for children.
Theatrical installations Historic Royal Palaces has worked with theatre-makers Coney and the award winning set designer Joanna Scotcher to radically transform the magnificent State Apartments. Stories about some of the most interesting monarchs from the Houses of Stuart and Hanover have been brought to life through beautiful and intriguing new installations that explores different stages of the dynasty. Elements of the historic collection are displayed alongside specially created interactive pieces, original soundscapes, animation and beautiful lighting, with the addition of magic mirrors, whisper machines and a magnificent family tree rooted in the Queen’s bedroom.
Victoria Revealed A new major permanent exhibition dedicated to Queen Victoria tells the story of the longest serving monarch, entirely in her own words. Over ten rooms, visitors can get to know the woman behind the crown, through quotes from her personal journals and letters. They can discover the room in which she was born, the very spot where she first set eyes on her beloved Prince Albert and the place where she spent her first moments as Queen. The exhibition includes more than 300 magnificent objects, including the tiny black silk baby shoes Victoria wore as a princess and a collection of dolls which the Princess modeled on court ladies and her idols from the stage. The simple and elegant ivory silk wedding dress she wore for her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840 is displayed for the first time in a decade.
Diana temporary display (until 2 September 2012) A small edited selection of dresses worn by Diana is on show, some of them for the very first time. The display explores the princess’s evolving style, from demure debutante to fashion icon, with garments from the like of Emanuel, Catherine Walker and Versace. Note the gorgeous bespoke wallpaper used to decorate the hallway that leads to the room where the dresses are displayed: designed by Julie Verhoeven, it is inspired by Diana’s key fashion moments and forms a real piece of art in itself.
New landscape gardens Kensington Palace has been linked once again to the neighbouring park thanks to a new entrance and some three-acre of new landscaped gardens. The high railings and fences which had been introduced in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies and obscured the palace have been removed, as have some shrubs and trees. By creating a new landscape, the building’s appearance has become much more welcoming and attractive, while the new gardens, inspired by the original layout created in the 18th century by royal gardener Charles Bridgeman, reflect more accurately the history of the palace. These new interventions are subtle but significant, re-introducing the once historic vistas from the palace to the park. Kensington Palace, once at the edge of the park, has now been placed again at its heart. New facilities also include a cafe and learning centre.
For more information: www.hrp.org.uk