It’s a known fact that here in America we’re absolutely obsessed with anything that has to do with the royal family. We cried with them when Diana died, we watched Prince William and Kate get married, and start their own family. Pretty soon we will watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married and start their own fairytale life together.
We’re so interested in everything royal, wanting to know every little thing about them, since we don’t have a royal family of our own. With the upcoming marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they will follow the tradition of many royals in the past and present, and move in to their own apartment in Kensington Palace. The palace to the non-reigning royals has a vast amount of history behind it, both interesting and kind of frightening.
These are fifteen facts about Kensington Palace, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s London home.
15 It’s Over 400 Years Old
Kensington Palace wasn’t always Kensington Palace. According to royal.uk, before it became the royal building that we all know, it was a beautiful two story Jacobean mansion built in 1605. That makes the original building over 400 years old.
It was then purchased by Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Nottingham in 1619. The architecture of the building is a part of the Renaissance period, and is home to a number of beautiful paintings and murals, and is absolutely gorgeous. Of course, it has been renovated over the years, making changes to make things more modern, but there are many things that are the same from over 400 years ago, and it’s amazing to look at.
14 It’s Open To The Public
Much like the White House, a portion of Kensington Palace is open to the public. You can’t walk through where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reside, however, you can explore the more historical side.
According to hrp.org.uk, there are four different routes that visitors can take when they visit the palace.
They can visit an exhibit that features Diana’s most famous outfits, taking them through a tour of her famous closet. Visitors can also learn about Queen Victoria and her interesting time in Kensington Palace in her very own exhibit. There’s also interactive exhibits where you meet historical figures and learn about them. Finally, there’s even something for the kids, in storytelling adventures. It’s a great way for people to learn about the history of the palace, and the 400 years it’s been active.
13 It Has Seen A Lot
Kensington Palace wasn’t always a happy place. In fact, over its centuries of being home to many royals, it’s actually seen a lot of tragedy within its walls. According to unnoficialroyalty.com, Mary II died of smallpox in 1694, and William in 1702 from pneumonia. Prince George of Denmark died in 1708, as well as Queen Anne in 1714. Believe it or not, that’s just a few of many, many more.
In the early centuries, it was very common for royals to pass while living in Kensington Palace due to illnesses to which there was no cure, things that we are able to prevent today. Nevertheless, many people have lived and had their lives end within the palace walls, giving future generations many interesting stories to tell.
12 It’s Made Up Of Apartments
What many people don’t know about Kensington Palace is it’s made up of a number of apartments that hold many royals. Of course, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live there with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, but there are many others, too, according to royal.uk.
There’s the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, along with the Prince and Princess of Kent. Pretty soon, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be joining them all.
Princess Diana also had her own apartment, which remained empty for years after her tragic passing. Over the years, apartments have been renovated to fit the tastes of the current royals living in them, however, these apartments have seen many royals throughout the centuries they’ve been active.
11 William And Kate Live There Too
When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got married, they also moved into apartment 1A in Kensington Palace. According to TheWeek, they made a number of renovations to the apartment to make it fit their needs. The word apartment is a bit misleading, because it’s not like an apartment we know.
It has multiple rooms and sections to it, and is much larger than anything we would ever own as an apartment. The last royals to live in Apartment 1A was Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon in the 1960s. The apartment has a lot of history, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have now made it their own home, along with their children Prince George, and Princess Charlotte and baby number three that should be arriving soon.
10 It Was Home To Diana
Naturally, when Diana was married to Prince Charles, the two of them lived in Kensington Palace. According to Hello! magazine, when she gave birth to Prince William and Prince Harry, both boys grew up in the palace as well.
When things went downhill and she ultimately divorced Prince Charles, she still stayed in Kensington Palace until her unfortunate and tragic passing.
After her passing, hundreds of thousands of adoring people left flowers at the palace gates in mourning and as tributes to the late princess. Even twenty years after her death, flowers surrounded the palace gates mourning her on the anniversary of her death.
9 It Became A Palace For Health Reasons
At first, Kensington Palace wasn’t a palace for royals, and it became one due to health reasons. Believe it or not, when King William and Queen Mary took the throne in 1689, they were in desperate search of a new place to live for a strange reason.
King William suffered from severe asthma, and where they lived at Whitehall Palace, the people interfered too much with his terrible asthma, and he needed to move somewhere else, according to The Crown Chronicles. As a result, they decided to live at Kensington Palace as it eased his asthma and he was much more comfortable. Therefore, after the big move, Kensington Palace became a home to the royals for many centuries after that.
8 Reigning Monarchs Don’t Live There
If you notice, there’s a bit of a trend amongst the royals that live at Kensington Palace. Yes, they’re all royals, however, none of them are reigning royals. They’re all in line for the throne, whether they’re first or tenth, they still have some sort of royal connection.
In fact, there hasn’t been a reigning monarch that’s lived in Kensington Palace in over 250 years, according to standard.co.uk.
The last reigning monarch that lived in Kensington Palace was King George II, and he passed away in 1760, so a long time, to say the least. Whether or not that is something that will change, we’re not sure, but it’s a tradition that’s been going on for centuries now, so we don’t think that will change any time soon.
7 You Can Host An Event There
Believe it or not, you can be a royal for a day at Kensington Palace. What many people don’t know is you can rent out Kensington Palace for your event. It will definitely cost you a pretty penny, but it might be the price you’d like to pay to live like a royal, even for one night.
The palace advertises the fact that it hosts events from auctions, to concerts, to other charity events, according to hrp.org.uk. The beautiful campus and, really, just the building in general would be the most spectacular backdrop to any event. In fact, Nicky Hilton got married at Kensington Palace. In July of 2015 she married James Rothschild in the palace’s Orangery, making it a night for her to remember for sure.
6 Treasures Have Been Found In The Walls
In a palace that is over 400 years old, there naturally has to be some cool hidden things and treasures hanging around. Throughout the years there have been a number of hidden treasures found within the walls of the palace, according to The Crown Chronicles.
There was a book of drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, that possibly might have belonged to Charles I.
The book was found in 1770 when George III was king. Henry VIII had a court painter, and some of his works were found in a drawer at the palace. Whether there’s more treasures to be found in the palace or not, we’re not too sure. We definitely think Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should definitely poke around when they move in.
5 Expansions Have Been Made Over The Years
Over the years, many expansions and renovations have been made. We know how Queen Victoria saved the palace from being destroyed by convincing parliament to pay for an extensive two year renovation.
However, there have been many other restorations after hers as well. The most recent one being the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s apartment — rooms were added and renovated to accommodate the new couple and their children.
In the 1700s, Queen Anne built the Orangery, which was used for a greenhouse and a place for court. Today, they are actually working on conserving the Orangery, according to hrp.org.uk. With a building that old, we can only assume there will be more renovations in years to come.
4 Queen Victoria’s Wild History
Queen Victoria is one of the most famous monarchs, according to hrp.org.uk. She was born at Kensington Palace in 1819. The throne was basically thrown at her at the early age of 18 years old. As a result, she had one of the longest reigns known — over 63 years!
She was an incredible monarch, sparking the Victorian Era. This period was an incredible time for expansion and the United Kingdom flourished. There was a lot of change within the military, political, scientific, cultural, and industrial world. The United Kingdom expanded, and she is a monarch that is still very famous today since her reign was so successful.
3 Unlucky For Women
The palace hasn’t really been lucky for women over the years, according to standard.co.uk. We already know that Mary died in the castle, but nothing can be as sad as Queen Anne’s story.
During her time at Kensington Palace, Queen Anne became pregnant a whopping seventeen times. Sadly, none of those children lived to reach adulthood, so she never had a true heir to the throne.
Of course, we had Princess Diana, who had a very unhappy life. She married Prince Charles, but was never truly happy with him. He loved another woman, but still married her and had Prince William and Prince Harry with her. They ultimately divorced, and we all know about her tragic death when she was still so young.
2 It Was Almost Knocked Down
In the 1890s the palace was actually almost knocked down. According to the CheatSheet, there were a lot of things wrong with the palace, and it was in need of renovation desperately.
Rooms were falling apart, bricks were falling off and decaying, wood was rotting, everything was in really bad shape. As a result, they really saw no other option than to knock it down and not deal with it. Queen Victoria came to its rescue, and started a two year renovation on the palace. She fought with parliament to get the money to fix the palace, and she ultimately won that war. Over the next two years, the palace was completely restored and saved, all thanks to Queen Victoria.
1 It Is Said To have ghosts
Like any other 400 year old building, they say the halls are haunted. According to standard.co.uk, one ghost that many people have claimed to see was the ghost of King George.
Many claim to have seen his presence in the King’s Gallery moaning his last words, “Why won’t they come?”
It’s also rumoured that his granddaughter, Princess Sophia, played with a spinning wheel until she went blind. As a result, many have reported a spinning wheel sound echoing throughout the palace. There have been so many rumoured hauntings throughout the palace, so much so, that they offer ghost tours to the public, to see if they can experience their own haunting.