From the outside the Kensington Palace looked like a typical British palace — just another large brick mansion surrounded by lovely, extremely-well-tended gardens. It was all very normal, one might even say traditional.
But then we made it inside. And holy hell was it weird.
I’m just gonna be honest here. The palace was strange, kind of baffling, and at times more than a little bit creepy.
From our brief research beforehand we knew we wouldn’t be going on your typical palace tour, but we were not expecting rose petal rituals hosted by steampunk-esque “guardians” or bizarre metal figures dangling from chandeliers.
But you know what?
We LOVED it.
The “Enchanted Palace” exhibit spans the state apartments (the only portion of the mansion open to the public) and presents a stylized story of seven princesses who once lived there.
Now, we’re not the biggest fans of modern art and we generally do our best to avoid spooky things, but this was sheer brilliance. The exhibit was perfectly crafted and spectacularly entertaining, two attributes we really hadn’t expected, and while the whole thing could have easily been too juvenile or creeptastic if overdone, it was neither.
With ambitious lighting, immersive audiovisual displays, and incongruous collections of historical objects, the curators who designed this “Enchanted Palace” exhibit hit just the right note.
Kensington Palace has been a working Royal residence since the 17th century, which means generation after generation of royal princesses have called it home.
In retrospect that makes the theme of the exhibit pretty obvious, but it wasn’t until we’d completed the tour that we realized the “seven princesses” were (more or less loosely) based on real, historical figures who’d once lived within those walls… which adds a whole new layer of meaning to the experience.
Modern art aside, Kensington Palace was apparently the official residence of Diana, Princess of Wales (until her death in 1997), Princess Margaret (until her death in 2002) and Princess Alice (until her death in 2004).
Want to know the really strange thing, though? Members of the British Royal Family STILL LIVE HERE.
Yep. One corner of Kensington Palace is reserved for a small army of G.I. Joe action figures, while another serves as the official London residence of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Only the Brits…
NOTE: The London Pass provides free admission to a wide range of attractions throughout the city, including Kensington Palace (adult tickets are ordinarily £12.50 each). We received two complimentary passes in return for sharing our experiences and writing a review of the London Pass.