It’s the past home of Queen Victoria and Princess Diana, the future residence of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge — and, it’s hoped, a stop on tourists’ London itineraries.
Kensington Palace — part museum, part royal abode — is reopening to the public after a two-year, $19-million makeover designed to give visitors a sense of what it is like to live in a centuries-old building that has witnessed both affairs of state and affairs of the heart.
The recently married Prince William and Kate Middleton are also due to move into the private area of the palace next year.
In the public areas of the palace, new renovations will showcase some personnel effects from past British monarchy including baby shoes belonging to Queen Victoria and a black dress belonging to Princess Diana.
“I hope what we have done will engage people who have always thought ‘a royal palace is not for me,'” Senior curator Joanna Marschner said Tuesday. “And for them to realize that these remarkable buildings, part of the DNA of the city, are for them.”
Other display cases hold more Princess Diana dresses along with sketches and pictures of the garments being worn by the late Diana, who at one time also lived in the palace.
Curator Deirdre Murphy said, “Diana’s evolving style and the important role fashion played in creating her public image.”
The Kensington Palace renovations came ahead of the Summer Olympics being held in London this year and the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebration.
“When you come here, you meet four different centuries of the royal family,” Marschner said.