After enjoying a fragrant and satisfying Lebanese dinner on Kensington High Street in London, my husband and I opted to forego the Tube and walk through Kensington Gardens to our serviced apartment in Notting Hill.
One would think that the name “Kensington Gardens” would have alerted me to the presence of Kensington Palace, but no. My trip planning had been targeted towards several of the “big” attractions (e.g., the London Eye, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey), so I was pleasantly surprised when we entered the Gardens from Kensington Road and approached elaborately decorated, black and gold gates at the side of Kensington Palace.
THE Kensington Palace. Once the home of King William and Queen Mary beginning in 1689. The birthplace of Queen Victoria. The center of English court life until 1760, when the royal family moved to Buckingham Palace. Princess Diana’s home from 1981 until her death in 1997. And today, the residence for members of the Royal Family. A royal residence right there in the park.
The beautiful colors of sunset prompted me to take this photo of a building on Kensington Road (just south of, but facing the side of, Kensington Palace). But now I imagine what the building’s occupants must have witnessed over so many years.
Moving deeper into the Gardens is the Round Pond, which sits east of the Palace. Swans paddled all around the Pond’s edge. This one swan was quite a character. He swam right up to us, then stayed close by. I moved to the right to get a different angle, but he swam right along with me. I moved to the left and the swan followed right along. Okay, friendly swan, I’ll just take your picture. The resulting photo reminds me of Narcissus. Royal swans…what can you do?
Standing at the Pond’s edge while facing west provides a great view of Kensington Palace, which recently underwent a two-year, £12 million renovation and is now re-opened for visitors (though only portions of the Palace are accessible to tourists). I would have liked to go inside, but it was after closing time (daily from 10am–6pm at least during the summer). Instead, we were treated to a nearly-people-free exterior experience. With the lights on, the Palace sure looked inviting, but the suited guards at all entry points made it clear that this was not the case, so we wandered by.
As we continued north on the Broad Walk, which passed in front of the statue, we entered a wooded area where benches lined the walk. My camera could no longer contend with the fading light and thick foliage, so I enjoyed a photo-free stroll with my husband past the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground and out onto Bayswater Road.