As I mentioned yesterday, I’m fascinated by the idea of these Royal residences. They are amazing pieces of architecture that showcase the history of England and the monarchy, with stunning exhibits and displays–particularly as London/England gears up for the (now past) Jubilee and Olympic Games. However, it’s important to remember that behind a few bricked up doors is where the royal family actually works and lives. This is particularly true of Kensington Palace, Queen Victoria’s childhood home, also the home of Diana after her divorce from the Prince of Wales as well as the late Princesses Margaret (the source of today’s post title) and Alice. It is now the official London base of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (i.e. Will and Kate) among others and the unofficial residence of Prince Harry.
I’d heard a bit about the new exhibits at Kensington Palace and went to visit them with both my parents and later a friend who came to visit. There have been many parallels drawn between Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria recently–with this Jubilee QEII clocks in at 60 years, which means she only has 3 years and 7 months to go to beat out Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch in England and the longest reigning female monarch EVER. Which is pretty cool, you have to admit.
There were 3 major exhibits that stick in my memory; one about Victoria’s reign, one about the reign of Queen Mary [of William &, because technically they reigned jointly. The fact that few people remember that she was NOT, in fact, a Queen Consort is probably one of the reasons she looks so dour in all her portraits), and one showcasing some of Diana’s more popular gowns. While perusing some of Victoria’s desk supplies (way to excited) I overheard a docent mention that some people would come in from the park commenting that they saw one of the princes going for a jog. The whole thing strikes me as so surreal, looking out your window with your morning cuppa to see random people on your front lawn! But it’s all part and parcel, I guess.
The exhibits were very Tim Burton-esque, with lots of interesting quotes written on the walls, these amazing silhouettes and all sorts of amazing things hanging on the wall. They kept very close to the more recent trend of museums being interactive–they were beautiful just walking through them, but in order to see or hear any information you had to crouch down, peer into windows, and sit in the window seats to hear the whispers of gossiping courtiers.