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|Town or city||Kensington Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London|
Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Kensington Palace is also used on an unofficial basis by Zara Phillips.
On 6 November 2011, it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would move from their temporary residence in Kensington Palace to the four-story, 20-room Apartment 1-A, formerly the residence of Princess Margaret. It was expected that they would move in 2013, with renovation work taking place in 2012. Once the Duke and Duchess had moved into their new apartment, Prince Harry was expected to move his official residence from Clarence House to the residence the Duke and Duchess vacated. On 28 March 2012, it was announced that Prince Harry had moved his residence from Clarence House to a one-bedroom apartment at Kensington Palace. He is still expected to move into the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's residence when the Duke and Duchess move to Princess Margaret's former apartment.
Kensington Palace was the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales (from 1981 until her death in 1997), Princess Margaret (from 1960 until her death in 2002) and Princess Alice (from 1994 until her death in 2004).
Today, the State Rooms are open to the public and managed by the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, a nonprofit organisation that does not receive public funds. The offices and private accommodation areas of the Palace remain the responsibility of the Royal Household and are maintained by the Royal Household Property Section.
Kensington Palace, earlier known as Nottingham House, has its origins in a Jacobean mansion built in 1605. Shortly after William and Mary assumed the throne as joint monarchs in 1689, they began searching for a residence better situated for the comfort of the asthmatic William; Whitehall Palace, the then-customary London residence of monarchs, was too near the River Thames for William's comfort.
In the summer of 1689, William and Mary bought Kensington Palace from Daniel Finch, 2nd Earl of Nottingham and a Secretary of State, for £20,000. They then instructed Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor of the King's Works to begin an immediate expansion of the house. Keeping the shell of the structure intact, Wren proceeded to add a three-story pavilion at each of the four corners, providing more accommodation for the King and Queen and their attendants, as well as a new entrance on the west, the Great Court, a narrow block of rooms to the south, with kitchens to the north and a clock tower surmounting an archway to the west of the Great Court.
Other significant expansions and alterations soon followed, and for the next seventy years, Kensington Palace was the favoured residence of British monarchs, although the official seat of the Court was and remains at St. James's, which has not been the actual royal residence in London since the 17th century.
Queen Mary II died of smallpox in Kensington Palace in 1694. In 1702, William suffered a fall from a horse at Hampton Court and was brought to Kensington Palace, where he died shortly after. After William III's death, the palace became the residence of Queen Anne. Sir John Vanbrugh designed the Orangery for her in 1704, and a magnificent baroque parterre 30 acre (121,000 m2) garden was laid out by Henry Wise, whose nursery was nearby at Brompton (illustration, left). Anne also had Christopher Wren complete the extensions that William and Mary had begun, resulting in the section known as the Queen's Apartments, with the Wren staircase, known as "The Queen's Entrance", which currently serves as the exit point, with shallow steps so that Queen Anne could walk down gracefully.
George I spent lavishly on new royal apartments from 1718. William Kent painted a staircase and some ceilings. In 1722 he designed the Cupola Room, the principal state room, with feigned coffering in its high coved ceiling; in 1819, the Cupola Room was the site of the christening of Princess Alexandrina Victoria, who had been born at Kensington, in the apartments of the Duke and Duchess of Kent (the actual room being what is now the North Drawing Room).
The last reigning monarch to use Kensington Palace was George II. For the royal consort, Charles Bridgeman swept away the outmoded parterres and redesigned Kensington Gardens in a form that is still recognizable today: his remaining features are The Serpentine, the basin called the Round Pond, and the Broad Walk.
After George II's death in the palace in 1760, Kensington Palace was only used for lesser royalty, including the young daughter of the Duke of Kent who was living in the Palace with her widowed mother when she was told of her accession to the throne as Queen Victoria in 1837. Queen Mary (grandmother of the present Queen) was born at Kensington Palace in 1867. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Teck, were living at the palace. Edward VIII called the palace an "aunt heap" because of the number of royal relatives residing there.
In 1981, apartments 8 and 9 were combined to create the London residence of the newly married Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, and it remained the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales after her divorce until her death. Her sons, Princes William and Harry, went to local nursery and pre-preparatory schools in Notting Hill, which is a short drive away, and were raised in Kensington Palace, which was a "children's paradise" according to Andrew Morton, with long passageways, a helicopter pad, and many outdoor gardens, including one on the roof where the family spent many hours.
In 2008, it was announced that to continue living from 2010 in their previously-subsidised Apartment 10, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent would be required to begin paying rent of £120,000 a year, the market rate of the five-bedroom, five-reception flat, rather than the nominal amount of £70 per week they had been paying for the previous seven years. Elizabeth II had previously been subsidising the £10,000 a month cost for the Kents to use their flat. Members of Parliament on the palaces committee had demanded the change after the Kents' rent had come to light. The Kents have lived in the apartment since 1979, only paying their utility bills prior to 2002. Other members of the royal family who reside at the palace are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
The palace was featured in the BBC documentary series Tales from the Palaces and is now home to the Enchanted Palace exhibition. During Halloween weekend 2011, the Historic Royal Palaces conducted nighttime Eerie Evening Tours of Enchanted Palace, highlighting mysterious sights and sounds within the palace's State Rooms, as referenced in the warders' log book over the centuries.
The King's Gallery at Kensington Palace, from The History of the Royal Residences by W. H. Pyne (1819)
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- "Who We Are". Historic Royal Palaces. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- "Origins," Kensington Palace official website, Retrieved 1 May 2013.
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- Cockcroft, Lucy (6 October 2008). "Prince and Princess Michael of Kent to pay £120,000 rent for Kensington Palace flat". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 4 June 2009.
- Routledge, Paul (14 June 2002). "Comment on Queen's grace-and-favour apartments". Daily Mirror (London). Retrieved 4 June 2009.
- Puente, Maria (29 August 2011). "Ghost tours offered at Kate's Kensington Palace". USA Today.
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