So…my original plan for today was to spend most of the morning and afternoon at Hyde Park, with a stop at Kensington Palace before heading home. What I didn’t know, however, was that a huge triathalon is happening in Hyde Park this weekend. Most of the streets in and around the park are closed for the events, making it very hard to navigate through the park. I realized pretty quickly that it was probably going to be more trouble than it was worth, so I decided to head to Kensington Palace earlier than I’d planned. Never fear, blog readers: Hyde Park WILL get its own day when I know it won’t be so shut down. I really liked what I saw of it, and I’m looking forward to exploring it further!
Now for Kensington Palace. It’s one of the HRP properties, which means free admission with my card. 🙂 Unfortunately, much of it is under construction right now, and isn’t set to open again until next year. That’s why the photo above is of the back of the palace; the front is all boarded and fenced. It’s a shame; the front view looks like it would be awesome! At any rate, the state rooms ARE still open for touring, and they’re set up as an “Enchanted Palace.” The rooms are more or less dedicated to seven of the princesses who lived there at one time or another: Queen Mary II, Queen Anne, Queen Caroline, Princess Charlotte, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret (current Queen’s late sister), and (of course) Diana, Princess of Wales. Victoria actually spent her childhood right in Kensington, and became queen while living there. Visitors to the palace are supposed to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts to uncover things about these princesses; there are clues in the form of handwritten notes, objects, and information books about all the art and objects that are in the rooms. Normally, I’m not into super touristy stuff like that. If I’m going to go to a historic sight, I’d rather see it set up as it would have been when people lived there, plain and simple. I have to say….I really enjoyed Kensington! The detail was AMAZING, and the staff was really helpful. The disembodied child’s voice in Queen Victoria’s bedroom was kind of freaky as well….really eerie. The palace staff was fantastic; I listened while one employee gave a group of visitors a short history of the palace and the monarchs who lived there, and it was super interesting. I definitely plan on going back again, and I SO wish I could see the place when all the work is done.
Last but not least, a picture of the gardens; you can get in here without buying a ticket to the palace, I think: