While it might not be as well known as Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace is still one of the most important residences of the British royal family. Today, it’s the official London home of William and Kate — the Prince and Princess of Wales — but this is a place with so much history. The luxury estate has secrets lurking within its walls that go back centuries. And if those walls could talk, these are the fascinating stories they would tell.
Princess Diana’s infamous interview
After tying the knot with the future King Charles III, Princess Diana packed her bags to go and live in Kensington Palace. The couple took over Apartments 8 and 9, two conjoined chambers set out over three floors. There was an office for Diana, a living room with a TV, and a more formal dining area, plus a nursery on the top floor where she looked after Prince William and Harry. But this part of Kensington Palace is also famous for being the setting for Diana’s highly controversial TV interview with Martin Bashir in November 1995. Diana also continued to live at Kensington even after her divorce from Charles.
Tigers and snails
Kensington Palace, which has been a royal residency since way back in the 17th century, boasts some impressive grounds. And throughout history, the gardens have been home to many animals: deer, horses, elk, you name it. But in 1725 a rather unexpected creature joined the fray: a tiger. The big cat, which was a gift to the King, didn’t have free rein of the grounds. Instead, an “iron den” was built for it to call home. Some 12 months later, a couple more tigers were brought in, too. To show how diverse the gardens were, a snailery was also installed during this period.
William and Kate raise their kids
How’s this for an awesome wedding gift? To celebrate William’s marriage to Catherine, Princess of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II handed them the keys to Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace. Incredibly, this living space houses a whopping 21 rooms! And the pair made good use of them once they settled in in 2012. Much like Diana did, William and Kate raised their three kids there, while also hosting the likes of Michelle and Barack Obama. They eventually moved out in 2022.
The palace wasn't always a palace
You might find this hard to believe, but Kensington Palace hasn’t always been a royal residence. It actually started out as a modestly sized villa by the name of Nottingham House. That all changed in 1689, though. Eyeing up a new country home, King William III and Queen Mary II purchased the estate and slowly transformed it into a place fit for royalty. The rest is history!