The chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley, says there have been at least seven princesses associated with Kensington Palace who were either ‘sad, bad or even mad’.
And when you visit you certainly feel as though there is a gloomy atmosphere to the Palace. But rather than pushing me you away, for me I found it intriguing.
Many people visiting London go to Buckingham Palace. It’s the famous royal building where the Queen works during the week and at their recent royal wedding, Kate Middleton and Prince William waved to the crowds from Buckingham Palace’s balcony.
But Kensington Palace is lesser known. Some tourists don’t even know about it, which makes it a delight to visit because the crowds are nowhere near as large as they are at Buckingham Palace meaning you can take your time to experience all the horrific stories that happened there.
But let’s hope Kensington Palace isn’t forever cursed, as Kate Middleton and Prince William are to make it their official home following the birth of their first child later this year.
So what can you see at this cursed place? Here are the top five most fascinating and haunting stories:
- 1. Learn about the deaths of Queen Mary and Queen Caroline
When the palace was first built in 1690, William III and Queen Mary had hoped to escape the Palace of Whitehall because they thought it was ‘grimy’. In those days, Kensington Palace was in the country, not in the ever growing London area like it is now, and the pair thought that being out there would give them a chance to get some fresh air. They commissioned the famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral, the build the palace.
Unfortunately, the fresh air didn’t do any good for Queen Mary, who contracted smallpox and died just a week after moving into Kensington Palace.
Queen Caroline’s fate was just as unfortunate. During her eighth pregnancy, her womb ruptured at the palace. Unsure of what to do, her doctors bled her before operating without anaesthetic. Ouch! Unfortunately, her condition worsened and she died when her strangulated bowel burst. What a way to go.
2. The tale of Princess Anne
Perhaps one of the most tragic tales in the Palace is that of Princess Anne, who succeeded Queen Mary when she died.
Queen Anne was married to George of Denmark and relentlessly tried to bear him a child. She had 17 pregnancies, with most of them ending in stillbirths or miscarriages. A few children were born, but none made it to their second birthday.
Then she gave birth to Prince William, but he died when he was 11 following his birthday party. A section of the Kensington Palace is dedicated to the haunted tale of Prince William’s death and it’s probably the creepiest part of the entire exhibition.
It’s said that on his birthday, Prince William danced so much that he fell into a fitful sleep, never to awake again. They’re not sure exactly what killed him but it was thought to possibly be a brain tumour.
The curse of Kensington Palace strikes again.
3. The horrors of George II’s family life
George II is not looked upon as one of the greatest monarch who ever ruled England, far from it. In fact, he has been described as having a short temper and being ‘boorish’. George II despised his son, Frederick, and they fought over money until George II banished him from Kensington Palace.
A few years later, Frederick died after being hit in the chest by a cricket ball. Upon hearing the news, his father said ‘good’ and carried on playing his card game. Imagine that!
You can visit the card playing room where George II learnt of the death of his son at Kensington Palace.
- 4. The mourning of Queen Victoria
As part of a recent £12 million refurbishment of Kensington Palace, the life of Queen Victoria is told over 10 rooms. The Queen’s personal diaries and letters are displayed in the room where she was born, along with her royal cradle which is decorated in red velvet and gold.
You can also see where Queen Victoria first saw her beloved Prince Albert and where she mourned after he died.
For me, this is the creepiest part of the Queen Victoria exhibition. The room is draped in black and some of the mourning outfits Queen Victoria wore after the death of Albert are on display. She was so grief-stricken that she hardly left the room for days on end and the atmosphere is still gloomy to this day.
The spookiest part for me, however, is how she cut off a locket of Albert’s hair to wear it in a love heart pendant around her neck. Creepy or romantic? You decide.
5. See the memories of unhappy women
Princess Diana and Princess Margaret lived unhappy lives behind the walls of Kensington Palace.
Princess Diana’s life was plagued with affairs and unhappiness, and Princess Margaret faced a bitter divorce from Lord Snowdon after living at the palace for a number of years.
Margaret and Diana lived at Kensington Palace in the 1970s and had rather lonely lives there, certainly in Princess Margaret’s case, as she had hardly any visitors.
Even Princess Diana’s friends seemed to have attracted some of the curse while visiting them. Rosa Monckton, Diana’s best friend, buried her six-month stillborn baby in an unmarked grave in the palace’s garden back in 1994.
And then of course, Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris a few years later. Mobs of mourners left flowers at Kensington Palace’s gates in memory of the Princess.
You can see beautiful portraits of both Princess Diana and Princess Anne adorning the walls of a room in Kensington Palace.
These are sad stories, but don’t despair, at the palace there is the chance to cheer yourself up by dressing in some of the outfits from that era.