Historical Places, Rants and Whimsy

Kensington Palace

August 18, 2014

I love history. It’s one of the reasons I love London. In London you can’t casually take a selfie without inadvertently posing yourself next to some sort of important historical building or monument. It’s great.

So, last week I moseyed on over to Kensington Palace. Why? Because I’ve been to Buckingham Palace. I’ve been to Windsor Castle. I’ve been to the Tower. I’ve been to Hampton Court Palace and even Eltham Palace for crying out loud. Kensington Palace seemed like the next logical step for me. I took my very own photographer / husband along for the ride. He doesn’t like history as much as I do, but he’s pretty easy going, so he didn’t take much convincing. The day was sunny and hair was shiny. All in all a good start.

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Upon entering the palace I first had to make my way past the guard of ticket-keeping. This man had taken it upon himself to design a series of riddles with the intention of repelling the unworthy, for those who didn’t present themselves with the appropriate paperwork in the first instance. I marched boldly up to the counter and handed over my papers, freshly printed from the online ticket store the day before. He looked them over and decided I was in need of further questioning. Gulp.

“What is your name?”

Not the trickiest of questions, especially as my name was indeed printed all over the papers I had just handed him.

“Frankie Winter,” I answered confidently.

“Correct!”

“Thank you!”

Obviously not the answer he usually gets at this point. He giggled. I supposed I was in need of further verification of my identity. Nope. I was welcome to head straight through, along with my un-interrogated plus-one.  There you go, folks. Always make ’em giggle.

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So, we went into the stairwell and saw a lot of stuff painted on the walls. It looked a little something like this:

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Firstly we visited the King’s apartments, then the Queen’s apartments, then we dug around in the kinky history of Queen Victoria.

The King was pretty straight forward. He liked wide doorways and women with even wider dresses. But then, who doesn’t?

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As you can see, it’s all quite regal and beautiful. The light is soft and even verging on ethereal. But, I can see you sit there slightly agitated by the build up of unanswerable questions.

I mean, where did the butler keep his plates? Why don’t we ever find out this vital information? Why is it being kept from us? Are we supposed to sit here and believe that in the days of yesteryear plates weren’t playing a huge part in the running and the upkeep of palace like this? Well, I have a special treat for you all:

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Yup, that’s were the magic happens! the butler’s plates are behind that very door! But it’s private, of course, so I’ll thank you not to get any funny ideas of my violating the sanctity of the situation to provide you with any more information than you’re rightfully entitled to. You want to know more about the butler’s plates? I suggest you revisit your birth and make it nobler.

Fresh from this bombshell discovery, I went onto the fashion exhibition in the Queen’s quarters. An exquisite exhibit full of dresses worn by royalty on special occasions – namely the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. Now, who do you suppose wore my favourite dresses of the day? The Queen. Hands down. Supposedly the dowdiest and safest of the royal women, this broad played a mean fashion game in her day. The gowns were nothing if not gorgeous in a bold and sexual manner. There were SEQUINS, DIAMANTES and teasing, subtle hints of “LOOK HOW AWESOME MY TITS ARE”. Seriously, those black and white photos do no do these gowns any justice. Lizzie was a babe.

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Above is a photo of me checking out some Queenie fashion. Much better than Diana’s (below) which I found to be ultimately disappointing, though it’s probably not all her fault as it was the 80s when she wore this stuff. The blue dress looks ok in the photo below, but in ‘the flesh’ it was just a little bit tacky.

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Not to worry. Dresses weren’t the only draw card of the day. There are also vases! And lots of mirrors so your hair need never look scruffy. Unfortunately, there was a bit of competition for prime mirror real estate:

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See this seat below? Well, I know people who have inadvertently decorated their homes with the theme of this startling interior design in mind. Everything comes back around eventually.

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Now, the last part of our palace journey. We move on to a series of rooms that reveal the real Queen Victoria. An avid diary keeper, she kept a record of all kinds of thoughts that flowed through her mind. Should have been a blogger.

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The best thing about the Victoria exhibition? The conversations of the people around me. Two little old ladies between the ages of 65-75 were quite funny. They were very posh, and quite pushy. They were intent on holding their ground and not moving away from any exhibit to let anyone else see until they were quite ready.

I was standing next to them admiring a couple of portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, when I heard:

Lady One – “Those portraits are very realistic!”
Lady Two – “Well, you know, they were very much in love.”
Lady One – “Yes, and she was mad for all the sex don’t you know”
Lady Two – “Oh yes, she loved it.”

And so it went on…

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Here’s me reading about some non-sexy Victoria photographs, with a bust of Albert (the love machine) to my left.

In summary, was Kensington the best palace I’ve visited? No.

Was it well worth the day out? Yes.

Lovely sunny day, lovely gardens, as much or as little history to soak up as you please and at last the defining answer to the age old question: Where does the butler keep his plates?

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