1. Kensington Palace has been a royal home for over 300 years.
William III and Mary II were the first royal residents. Queen Anne, George I and George II and Queen Caroline made Kensington Palace their home, too. Queen Victoria secured apartments at Kensington Palace for her daughters, Princess Louise and Princess Beatrice. Princess Margaret had apartments from the 1960s and now it is home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their family, as well as Prince Harry.
2. The Queen's staircase is deliberately plainer than the King's.
While the King's staircase is a grand affair with walls painted by William Kent, the Queen's staircase is much more plain Jane. Why? This makes it feel much more domestic. Queen Mary would also use the staircase to easily reach her beloved gardens through the door at its foot.
3. Queen Victoria's creative passion started at Kensington Palace.
Did you know Victoria was quite the keen amateur artist? In a way, the palace was her inspiration, as she drew the things that surrounded her when she was a child, including her dog Dash, her governess, and visiting ladies and stage stars.
4. It's where Victoria first met Albert.
As an eligible young royal, Victoria drew suitors from across Europe, but one in particular caught her attention: her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. After his visit to Kensington Palace in 1836, she wrote to her uncle — who had favoured him — that Albert was kind and had a "pleasing and delightful exterior." After a period of courting, they married in 1840.
5. Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace.
And she spent much of her childhood there, too. She later said it was a lonely and unhappy one — her mother was strict and controlled who she was allowed to see. She also spent her first moments as Queen there when she was just 18, and held her first Privy Council meeting in the Red Saloon.
6. The King's Gallery of art wasn't just for show.
Although it was used to display paintings (including a copy of Van Dyck's noble portrait of Charles I on horseback), it was also used for exercise. It also served as a wind station of sorts — if you look closely at the fireplace, you'll notice a dial which today is still connected to a wind-vane on the roof. This way, the King track the way the wind was blowing, and determine where his navy was and where the post was likely to be heading.
7. It was a hotbed for scandal.
If walls could talk, Kensington Palace's would certainly have a lot to say. It has been privy to much scandal and gossip over the years, including George I's troubled love life. The monarch left his unfaithful wife Sophia Dorothea imprisoned in Germany, and brought over his mistress Engherard Meleusine bond der Schulenberg. He was also very close to his half-sister Sophia Charlotte, which led subjects to speculate they were having an affair! Kensington also witnessed Queen Anne's bitter argument with her intimate friend Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough in 1710, which led to them never speaking again.
8. The King's Apartments are empty on purpose.
The grand rooms of the State Apartments are surprisingly bare because, unlike domestic rooms, they were chock full of people who were there to have an audience with the King or to attend one of his grand parties.
9. The beautiful Sunken Garden used to be potting sheds.
Although it's now a tranquil ornamental garden, the Sunken Garden used to be much more utilitarian. It was modelled on a Hampton Court Palace garden and celebrated the 18th century gardening trend. Today, it features elegant tiered flower beds and a pond with fountains formed from re-used 18th century water cisterns from the Palace.
10. Cradle Walk used to be called Nanny Walk.
The walk surrounding the Sunken Garden used to be called the Nanny Walk, during the 1920s and 1930s because it was a favorite meeting point for all the nannies of well-heeled children in Kensington.