Hidden in the grassy hills of Hyde Park stands the hard-to-miss brick estate that is Kensington Palace.
The palace has a rich and interesting history that dates back to the 17th century, but it really came into the spotlight after Prince Charles and Princess Diana moved in after their wedding.
In 1689, King William and Queen Mary purchased a £20,000 (about £4 million today) Jacobean mansion in the village of Kensington. Their official residence, the riverside Whitehall Palace, was too hard on William’s asthma. They hired renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren to expand the house into a proper palace, and the royal court moved there before Christmas in 1689.
Succeeding generations of royals continued to use the palace. Queen Anne expanded its gardens and constructed The Orangery which was originally used as a greenhouse and now is a public restaurant. Queen Victoria was born and Christened in the palace in 1819, and she saved the dilapidated property from being destroyed years after she moved out.
In 1899, the state apartments were first opened to the public as a museum. In the following century, the palace went through a series of closures but was reopened permanently in 1949 after being repaired for bomb damage from World War II.
Princess Margaret and her husband, the Earl of Snowdon moved into the palace in the 1960s, and Prince Charles moved in with Princess Diana after they were married. Diana continued to live in the palace until her death in 1997.
Today, the palace still serves two purposes. It’s open to the public as a museum but is also the official residence for a number of select royals. Keep reading to see which members of the royal family call Kensington Palace home…
1. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – Nottingham Cottage
Prince Harry moved out of his apartment in Clarence House in 2012, and made the move to Kensington Palace’s 2-bedroom house, Nottingham Cottage.
Harry now shares the cottage, which used to belong to William and Kate, with his new fiancee, Meghan Markle! The former actress moved into the cottage in November 2017, shortly after the Prince proposed there – and it’s where the couple spent many nights before becoming engaged.
However, it’s now been rumoured that the soon-to-be husband and wife could be set to move into Apartment 1 in the palace – a 21-room house that would afford the couple much more space.
It had been rumoured that Harry was eyeing up the bigger apartment, which is next to William and Catherine’s home, for some months. However, it’s now been reported that renovations are almost completed at the property, in preparation for Harry and Meghan to move in soon after their wedding.
The apartment used to be home to the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester – but it’s said that they moved out in November, to make way for Prince Harry and Meghan. So it seems this move has been in the planning for some months!
Apartment 1 would of course be a more practical choice for Harry and Meghan, who are likely to want to start a family within the next few years. The huge property would give them plenty of space – which arguably, they don’t have in their current cottage.
2. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Apartment 1A
The most prominent royals living in Kensington Palace today are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who first moved there in 2013.
At first, the two lived in the cosy Nottingham Cottage, but eventually set up in the spacious Apartment 1A, which used to belong to Princess Margaret. Catherine and William spent £4.5 million renovating the apartment, as well as hundreds of thousands more of their personal money on additions like a second family kitchen.
They moved out of the Kensington abode in 2013 shortly after the birth of Prince George, moving to Anmer Hall in Norfolk in order to raise their children in relative privacy.
But now, the family have officially moved back to their Kensington Palace apartment, in order to dedicate themselves to being full-time royals with their base in the capital.
3. The Prince and Princess of Kent – Apartment 10
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were caught up in controversy when it was discovered the Queen was covering the majority of their rent since they moved into the palace in 2002. In 2010, it was announced they would have to begin paying the full rate of £120,000 if they wanted to remain as residents.
(Prince and Princess Michael of Kent)
4. The Duke and Duchess of Kent – Wren House
Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent lives in Kensington Palace’s Wren House with his wife, Katharine. The Duke is Queen Elizabeth’s first cousin and also serves as the president of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
5. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksband (soon!)
It was recently announced that Princess Eugenie, cousin to William and Harry, will move into the palace’s Ivy Cottage out of the four bedroom apartment in St. James’ Palace she currently shares with her sister, Beatrice. She’ll be moving in with fiance Jack Brooksbank, ahead of their October wedding.
6. Everyone else!
There are 50 residents of the palace total, and the rest are made up of military members, courtiers, staff, and a sprinkling of regular citizens who pay market rent for their royal dwelling.