Princess Di’s Former Home Opens To Public

March 20, 2012 by staff 

Princess Di’s Former Home Opens To Public, First the queen inspected it. Then the press previewed it. Next week ordinary tourists get to swarm through it. Kensington Palace, the home of the late Princess Diana and scores of other august and glamorous royals, reopens after a $19 million makeover, just in time for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics in London this summer.

Journalists toured the red-brick palace in a large public park in central London today; Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, inspected it earlier this month. Like other royal palaces, Kensington, built in the 17th century, is both a museum open to the public and a home for royals, including Diana’s son Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate of Cambridge. They move into a large apartment, formerly occupied by the queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret, next year.

The museum’s senior curator, Joanna Marschner, told reporters the renovation will present both the “big, glorious, golden rooms” that people expect, and a trove of more personal, revealing items, from Queen Victoria’s wedding dress and baby shoes (she grew up there) to Diana’s little black dress (she lived there for 16 years after marrying Prince Charles in 1981). When Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997, hundreds of thousands of mourners left a carpet of flowers outside the palace gates.

Many visitors are expected to make a beeline for an exhibit of Diana’s dresses, alongside sketches of the garments and photographs. Upstairs is an exhibit devoted to Victoria, the current queen’s great-great grandmother and the only other British monarch to reach 60 years on the throne. The exhibit includes the room where she was born and the room where in 1837 she was informed, at age 18, that her uncle the king had died and consequently she was queen.

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