On Monday, Sam and I hopped on the Tube and headed to Kensington, a royal borough of London. Kensington is home to numerous embassies, universities, museums, bicycles, crisp white buildings, and very wealthy people.
To get there we walked through Hyde Park (quickly – searching for a loo),
across the Serpentine,
and through Kensington Gardens to our first attraction of the day: Kensington Palace.
Kensington Palace has been the home of King William III, Queen Mary II, Queen Anne, King George II, Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and many others.
It is now the London home of these royal beauties:
The tour-able portion of the palace is separated into three sections: A look into the life of Queen Victoria, the King’s State Apartments, and the Queen’s State Apartments. All of that was in area 3 on this diagram. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and of course, Prince George) live in Apartment 1A, marked on this diagram by the number 2.
It was at Kensington Palace that Victoria went to bed a Princess and woke up a Queen. We were able to tour the room where she signed the charter, becoming queen. Sam modeled the period wardrobe for us.
One thing I’ve become aware of since moving to the UK is the gaping hole in the history portion of my brain where knowledge about British monarchs should be. The timeline of monarchs is something every Brit seems to have memorized while I can’t even recall how many King Henry’s there were or what century any of them ruled in. (Though I do know Henry VIII was the one with several wives.) I wish more of that information had stuck with me over the years, but it does make for a sense of discovery as I tour museums and piece together more of this country’s amazing past. Learning about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was fascinating.
The exhibit was marked with lines from both of their diaries, demonstrating the clear affection they had for each other.
Victoria had a lonely, isolated and sorrowful childhood and felt she found happiness for the first time upon marrying Albert. They were married for 21 years before he passed away suddenly, and Queen Victoria fell into a deep depression. She said the happy portion of her life was gone. For nearly forty years after his death, she remained in official mourning, wearing only black and attending state events only when required.
Next, we moved on the king’s apartments. They were, unfortunately, under construction but we were still able to see a few breathtaking rooms.
This next room was my favorite… the Cupola room, a site for dancing and entertainment.
Finally, we moved on to the Queen’s apartments, where they quite artfully told the story of the conflict behind the throne in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
Further down, past the gallery, they told the sad story of how Princess Anne (later Queen Anne) had eighteen children, and only one lived past infancy. Prince William. Every birthday Prince William had was a landmark occasion, celebrated lavishly by his family, a bit of hope against a melancholy past. One display showed birthday banners celebrating William’s 11th birthday, surrounded by seventeen little empty chairs. Sadly, that party was his last. As I proceeded through the exhibit, I wondered, “How have I never heard this strange story before?”
Touring the palace provided a fascinating look at some of the royal history of England, and the glamour, wealth and often loneliness that comes with it. It made me thankful for many things: the opportunity to visit such a beautiful place, modern medicine, joy and hope in Christ, my family, privacy, and the fact that I’m not royalty!
All of that excitement, and it was only lunchtime! We found a delicious Qdoba-type place for lunch, inhaled some burritos, and continued through Kensington to our next stop: The Victoria & Albert Museum (also known as: My new favorite place in London). I’ll write up another post just about “the V&A” later this week.
Thanks for reading. 🙂