Continuing the London portion of my travelogue...after spending the morning at Hampton Court we returned to London proper and spent much of the afternoon at Kensington Palace.
Below, a statue of William III in front of the Palace:
Kensington Palace was the birthplace of Queen Victoria and is the place where she learned of her accession to the throne at the age of 18.
Kensington Palace was also the birthplace of Queen Mary, wife of George V.
For many years Kensington Palace was the home of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, and today it continues to be the home of some of the queen's cousins.
The palace has a wonderful exhibit of many of Diana's most famous dresses. (Additionally, a well-remembered pearl-studded gown is currently on exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum.) Seeing the gowns was bittersweet, as the last time we were in London, in the late '80s, we saw Diana in person on two different occasions.
As with most palaces, photography is only permitted outside. Here is the Palace's beautiful Sunken Garden:
The interior of the palace, incidentally, is in much better condition than Hampton Court.
Another shot of the garden:
Tulips in the garden:
And two more shots of the beautiful garden:
Kensington Gardens also features this statue of Queen Victoria, sculpted by her daughter Louise to celebrate the first half century of her mother's reign.
Kensington Palace currently has a very interesting special exhibit called The Last Debutantes which will be open until early 2010. The exhibit describes life as a debutante in 1958, which was the last year when debutantes were formally presented to the Queen.
In the palace gift shop I bought a paperback copy of a book on this topic, LAST CURTSEY by Fiona McCarthy, which looks like a very interesting social history.
My favorite monument in Great Britain is the Albert Memorial, which is in easy walking distance of Kensington Palace:
The first time I visited England I stayed in a hotel in the immediate area and frequently saw this beautiful statue of Prince Albert, which is across from the Royal Albert Hall.
I therefore came to associate the statue very strongly with London, especially as I admire Prince Albert.
My daughter got to know this monument quite well, as she wrote a paper on it for an architecture class this semester.
This busy day wrapped up with a quick visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum...
...and a stop at the shopping wonderland every tourist has to visit at least once, Harrod's.
I've always wanted a toast rack -- not something one sees often in U.S. stores -- and thanks to Harrod's I now own one!