Monday, March 14, 2011
Enchanted Kensington Palace
London's Kensington Palace is undergoing a 12 million pound (the Great British kind) renovation, which means we're not allowed to tour the palace in its typical state. The project began in June 2010, and is set to be completed by...I'm not sure.
The Historic Royal Palace website is beyond annoying, as it requires you to "read more" in a million places to try to figure out the in-a-nutshell synopsis of what is going on. It was only after clicking on "Buy tickets" that I was able to get this:
Kensington Palace is now the Enchanted Palace - a very different and immersive experience which fills the historic State Apartments with modern art and fashion installations plus experimental lighting until early 2012 whilst major building works to transform the palace take place.
Okay, so the bottom line is, the Enchanted Palace installation is available until "early 2012", which is what I needed to know for the purposes of this blog post. Sheesh.
After a very picturesque, but very mediocre tea service at the Orangery, I entered the Enchanted Palace.
What I really wanted to see was the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, which was not there - something about being stored to avoid dust or something - but the Enchanted Palace was such a magical fairy tale experience that I quickly forgot that I was missing out on something. The guide offers a pirate-like treasure-hunt map:
The "treasure" that you're looking for is/are the names of seven princesses who had all lived in the palace at some point. Every room marked with a red crown is one of the princess rooms, and you have to decipher the clues (or just look around the room) to discover the name of the princess.
Each room was stunningly created as a separate spellbinding story, complete with mysterious lighting, extravagant decor and eerie sound-effects. I wasn't supposed to take photos, but I truly didn't know that until after I took these.
I don't think there was a legitimate reason for this, other than the fact that they want you to purchase postcards of the various rooms from the Gift Shop.
I do not feel guilty about taking the photos, because I bought other stuff from the Gift Shop. I always do.
Between now and "early 2012" I highly recommend a visit to the Enchanted Palace. You could just go to the website to learn about it, but I am pretty sure it would take longer to get through the baffling, seemingly aimless maze of "read more" links, than it would to pack a suitcase, fly to London, visit the palace in person, buy some stuff in the Gift Shop, have tea at the Orangery, see a few other things around town, fly home and unpack your suitcase. And sometimes that unpacking part can take weeks.