At Kensington Palace – William and Kate had moved in the previous day! (Those windows on the left are part of their very large 20-room house, Apartment 1A.)
London is chockablock with royal palaces: so grand! So imposing! So not meant for you! Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London are cold and forbidding, The Palace of Whitehall all but burned down hundreds of years ago, and St. James Palace is just creepy.
But Kensington Palace is warm and whimsical. It’s enormous, but still manages to feel like a real residence. It tricks you into thinking that if you tried just a little bit harder, you, too, could enter its magical modern royalty cocoon.
A photo of William and Kate hangs in the public hall at the Kensington Palace Fashion Rules exhibition
William and Kate are Kensington Palace’s newest residents, but several of members of the royal family call it home: Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. (It’s long been the Melrose Place of royal residences, so much so that Edward VII called it “the aunt heap.”)
KP, as Princess Diana called it, manages to be both huge and cozy: it’s a massive palace broken up into several “smaller” (I use that word loosely) multi-story apartments, with private gardens, wi-fi and air-conditioning. Hey, this is England: you can’t take those little luxuries for granted!
While Kensington Palace has been getting all the press with the royal move, William and Kate actually have two new places: they’re also renovating a place in Norfolk called Amner Hall, and judging by how much the Cambridges love country life, I’m betting that’s where they’ll spend a significant chunk of their time in the future. (Similarly, William “grew up” at Kensington Palace with Diana, but also lived with Charles at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, a place he equally considers home.)
William and Kate’s other new home: Amner Hall in Norfolk
E. and I didn’t make it all the way up to Norfolk to KMid-stalk (it’s about 2 hours away from the London lookie-loos in a remote corner of England, just the way Will-‘n-Kate like it), but we did visit the Kensington Palace Fashion Rules exhibition featuring clothing of famous Kensington Palace residents Princess Diana and Princess Margaret, as well as to peek at the Victoria Revealed exhibition. (Victoria was born in Kensington Palace and lived there until she became Queen, when she relocated to Buckingham Palace. I’ll post more on the Victoria Revealed exhibition tomorrow!)
This is my absolute favorite photo of Princess Margaret
The Fashion Rules exhibit features some iconic dresses that your royalty-obsessed mothers might remember from Hello magazine spreads in the 80s. My favorite item of clothing there is the cream-colored caftan and turban that Princess Margaret wore on Mustique, during her louche Jackie O phase.
Margaret was hands-down the most glamorous member of the royal family, in my opinion. This Carl Toms outfit, above, was worn in 1976, during a period when Margaret hung out with Mick Jagger, partied like a rock star, and just generally did not give a damn. I wrote a post about it here.
Compare that to what Princess Margaret used to dress like, above and below, during her more conservative “I’m the sister of the Queen and I suppose I should act like it” days.
Princess Diana’s clothes are also well-represented in the exhibit, although there were not as many of them as I would have liked. (What can I say? I’m greedy.) Over the years, her dresses have been increasingly sold at auction for charity, including the famous £800,000 sale earlier this year.
This dress was worn by Diana in 1986
This red jewel-encrusted Bruce Oldfield gown was worn by Princess Diana on a trip to Saudi Arabia
The Fashion Rules exhibit is on until Summer 2015 (you can get tickets here), and I heartily recommend it the next time you’re in London.
Maybe you’ll get lucky and spot Kate walking with Lupo and Prince George in the gardens!
Fellow royalty lover? Read about the time I ran into Pippa Middleton at Harrods.