Schackenborg Palace

Time to chat about another royal home!

Today’s post is all about Schackenborg, the palatial home of Prince Joachim of Denmark and, as you can see here, it’s not too shabby.

via countessAlexandra
via The Unofficial CountessAlexandra page

The estate consists of the palace itself


extensive gardens (that are open to the public in the summer)


and a working farm (including a Christmas tree farm!).

working away (via Royal Watchers)
Joachim the farmer (via Royal Watchers)

The palace transferred into the Royal Family’s ownership in 1978. The Schack family had owned the palace for 11 generations (!) and decided to transfer the property the the Queen of Denmark when upkeep simply became too much.

Here is the Count and Countess Schack with Queen Margrethe, Prince Henrik and a young Prince Joachim, Prince Frederick standing in front of the Schackenborg in 1978. It must have been a sad day for the Schak family.

Visiting Schackenborg in 1978 (via Tomorrow's Crowned Heads)
Visiting Schackenborg in 1978 (via Tomorrow’s Crowned Heads)

When the transfer took place, it was decided that Schackenborg would be  held for Prince Joachim.  As the second son who would likely never be king (brother Prince Frederick is one year older), the palace and estate would give Joachim both an income and a home.  The plan was that Joachim would take over once he had enough of an education in agriculture and estate management.

Just imagine what must have been going through Prince Joachim’s head that day. Here he is, arms crosse with Queen Margrethe swishing ahead in her shawl. Born in 1969, Joachim wasn’t yet ten years old when all of this went down. In any case, this arrangement is similar how the Duchy of Cornwall was set up to give the Prince of Wales income before becoming King.


And here’s the count with Joachim and a wee peak at the transfer papers.

image via

The future of the Schack family took quite a turn that day. Here is a recent photo of Mik Schack, the fellow who would have inherited had the estate stayed in his family.

Mik Schack via Danish Royal Family Media Watch
Mik Schack via Danish Royal Family Media Watch

This article includes an interview with Mik where he gives some more background on the situation.

Yes, I’m actually Count of SchackenborgMy family had Schackenborg Castle through 11generationsbut could not afford to inherit itso in 1978 it was taken over by the royal family,” said Mik Schack to

“My father told me that it was hopelessly in debtand it would be too hard for a Copenhagenboy like meI was not out to play farmer, because I had opened Musikcafeen at Huset and waswell on the way there,” continues Mik Schack.

And so the plan went into effect. Prince Joachim studied agriculture in Denmark and abroad, knowing that Schackenborg was his future.

Joachim on the estate's farm (via Royal Dish)
Joachim on the estate’s farm (via Royal Dish)

In 1993, all that planning came into action and he took over the Schakenborg estate made the palace home.

In 1995, two years after moving to Schackenborg, Prince Joachim announced he was going to marry Alexandra Manley. Alexandra had quickly won over the royal family, and actually explained in an early interview that she first met Queen Margrethe one-one-one while she had a paintbrush in hand at Schackenborg, helping to paint a fireplace (source).

Alexandra and Joachim's wedding day
Alexandra and Joachim’s wedding day

To celebrate the wedding , many Danes contributed to what was called The Nations Gift, which paid for the refurbishment of the exterior of the house and grounds.

The reception (via
The reception (via

There was a televised reception to thank the Danes for their gift and warm wishes, and this was the first time that Alexandra gave a speech in Danish. She only had six weeks of lessons under her belt at this point and despite that she impressed everyone. Alexandra’s is an interesting story – you can read a bit more about it by clicking here for our post on her twinkly engagement ring.

Alexandra's first speech in Danish (via
Alexandra’s first speech in Danish (via

Queen Margrethe gifted the couple with monogrammed gates to the palace with  an A for Alexandra and a J for Joachim. See them there? More about those gates in a minute.

Home Sweet Home (via
Home Sweet Home (via

First, Schackenborg made from tiny Lego pieces! Legoland is a big deal in Denmark- it’s where Lego was invented!- and they created a Lego model of the palace, which the couple visited in 1997.

A mini Schakenborg (via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page)
A mini Schakenborg (via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page)

Cute, right?

via the Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page
via the Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page

Here’s a glimpse inside.

via the Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page
via the Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page

The couple had quite a few dogs to walk around the palace grounds.

via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page
via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page

And this photo gives us a better look at the interior.

via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page
via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page

This portrait was taken in the same room and was featured in Vanity Fair in 2003.

(via Vanity Fair)
Just hanging out at home (via Vanity Fair)

And another one of the gates for good measure!

via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page
via The Unofficial Countess Alexandra Page

Joachim and Alexandra divorced in 2005 and Alexandra moved out of the palace. It is now home to Princess Marie who married Joachim in 2008.

While Joachim and Alexandra married in Frederiksborg Palace Church outside of Copenhagen, Joachim and Marie married at a church close to their palace.


Marie and Joachim's wedding day
Marie and Joachim’s wedding day

And the reception was actually held at Schackenborg. Love those floral heart wreaths!

The bride and groom return to their palace (Royal Dish)
The bride and groom return to their palace (Royal Dish)

This portrait of the bride and groom with ether parents was also taken in the palace.

The bridge and groom at home (via )
The bridge and groom at home (via The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)

That made me wonder if the monogram on the gates and been updated so I did some digging and sure enough, they did!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

A few more shots of the palace before we leave. Here’s the whole family together – Princess Marie with tiny Princess Athena, Prince Felix, Prince Nicholai, and Prince Henrik.

Everyone on the floor! (via )
Everyone on the floor! (via Danish Royal Watch)

As I mentioned earlier, Prince Joachim is a partner in a large christmas tree farm on the estate, and so naturally they have to have a big one at the palace each year.

Christmas at the palace (via )
Christmas at the palace (via My Royals Blog)

Similar to Alexandra, Marie also posed by the window.

via My Royals Blog

I haven’t been to Schackenborg or the surrounding town, but I think it would be fun to check out! How about you – is it on the list?

The Victoria Revealed Exhibit at Kensington Palace

Today we’re continuing with my recent visit to Kensington Palace. Our last post focused on the current Diana exhibit, and today is all about Victoria Revealed, a temporary exhibit that looks at some of Queen Victoria’s  toys, dresses, and sketches to give more insight into her life.

This exhibit is also very appropriately held in some of the rooms where Victoria lived. She was born at Kensington Palace, and it is where she grew up. It was here that she was woken up in the wee hours of the 20th of June 1837 when she was eighteen and was informed that she was now Queen. This monument now stands in front of the palace in her memory:

So let’s get started! Just like there was a ‘D’ painted on the wall for the Diana exhibit, there was a delightful ‘V’ for Victoria that leads up the stairs to the exhibit:

One of the first things that caught my eye when I walked in was this dress. Queen Victoria wore this to her first Privy Council Meeting on the day she became Queen. It was originally black since the court was in mourning for the King, but it now appears brown because of age:

And that Privvy Council meeting took place in the very room where the dress now is. How cool is that? Another highlight for me was a room that displayed some of the future Queen’s toys, including this delightful doll house:

The doll house is set up on this yellow rug which has the following quote from Queen Victoria:

“My earliest recollections are connected with Kensington Palace where I can remember crawling on a yellow carpet that was set out for this purpose.” 

Love that! And to top it all off, the room where all of this is set up is believed to have been Victoria’s playroom. That room includes these tiny outfits that were worn by two of Queen Victoria’s children to a fancy dress party:

And there are also some sketches that Victoria did when she was still a princess. This sketch is of her dog, who she named Dash. He is shown here all dressed up in a jacket and hat:

While I was looking at this I recalled a video which we included in our post on the British Royal Family’s christening gowns. In it, the Queen talks to a very young Zara and Peter Philips about her new Corgi who she has named Dash. She tells that that it is “a word you use when you’re cross. And it comes out frankly well as a dog’s name, you see.” So apparently dog’s names run in the family, too!

Here’s the video. The “Dash” stuff comes up at 1:36 and is really quite funny:


The adjoining room houses Queen Victoria’s wedding gown in a beautiful display. Looking at it in person, I was struck at how TINY she was. She must have been well under 5 feet tall:

Her head dress and earrings are also shows in a glass case so you can really get a good look:
If you feel so inclined to read our post on Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, click here and for more on her wedding jewels, click here. It was fun to see it all in person!
To end, check out the regal signage for the washrooms:

All of that walking around worked up an appetite so my next post will recount my visit to The Orangery for tea in Kensington Gardens. See you then!

A Visit to Kensington Palace: The Diana Exhibit

My recent trip to Kensington Palace, or KP as Diana called it, was a lot of fun. I took this picture by those famous gates that were covered in flowers in the days after Princess Diana’s death:

That still seems to be top of mind to people walking by; I overheard a couple of ladies talking about those mountains of flowers and how this spot became a place for people to congregate.

As you may know, there were some extensive renovations done recently and the palace re-opened to the public last March. The entryway for visitors of the tourist variety is a glass gazebo-like structure that commemorates Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee:

Once inside, there are currently three temporary exhibits on and this post will focus on the first one I visited. It is called Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess. I started out here, since this exhibit is on the main floor and remarkably, is actually part of Apartment 1A, Princess Margaret’s old apartment which will be the home of William and Kate. Click here for our post on that.

The outside of the exhibit has this great portrait taken by Mario Testino which shows  Diana wearing one of the five dresses included in the exhibit:

And there’s this delightful “D” painted on the wall:

Here’s a closer look. Note the Spencer tiara, ballet slippers, Jimmy Chu shoes, English rose, and cause ribbon:

Next you walk down this hallway into the exhibit which has wallpaper depicting Diana during some iconic moments of her life. There’s a Daily Mail article that goes through which pictures the wallpaper depicts. Check it out here. The drawings were done by fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven:

Note the high ceilings and window for natural light:

Here’s a close up of the wallpaper:

When I was walking by, I noticed the little lamb near the depiction of Diana in her wedding dress. There it is jumping over a clothes hanger above. Could that be a reference to Diana’s comment to her private secretary Patrick Jephson that she felt she was  “a lamb to the slaughter” while walking up the aisle in St. Paul’s? Click here for an article on that. Rather bold, and yet in all the articles I read about the exhibit  and this wallpaper I saw no mention of it. Hmm…

Anyhow, here’s the entry way into the room with all the dresses:

You will be greeted with this explanation:

And onto the dresses! The room is set up like this. That’s a sleepy guard standing in the background:

There are two dresses in that centre case. The first one is the one that Diana wore on her first engagement with Prince Charles.

Princess Grace was there that night as well:

The second dress is this beautiful one by Catherine Walker which is a favourite of mine:

Here’s the back view, which I hadn’t seen before:

This silk chiffon gown is by Catherine Walker as well, and was first worn on a visit to Thailand in 1988.

Here is the accompanying description:


and a photo from the Thailand trip. This dress is one of the ones depicted on that wallpaper:

This dress was designed by Bellville Sassoon:

Gotta love this sassy illustration:

There are also pictures and and an additional sketch displayed in this cabinet:

The fifth dress is this black Versace number which shows how Diana’s style became especially sophisticated in the final years of her life:

Here is a photograph of Diana in the dress:

The other display of note in the exhibition room is this mantlepiece, which features some well known pictures of Diana out and about. This mantlepiece really makes me wonder what this room originally was. A den, perhaps??

This exhibit just runs until November 4, 2012 if you have a chance to go.

Also, I thought it was interesting that the gift shop has all sorts of Princess paraphanalia on sale…including a book entitled The Dumpy Princess. Seems a bit too Disneylandish to me, but I guess you gotta keep sales up somehow.

Some more books for sale…including the Tina Brown biography on Diana…which again seems a bit much:

To end, here’s a lovely photo of the garden in the afternoon:

Any thoughts or favourites of these dresses?

Queen Victoria’s Christmas at Windsor Castle

Merry, Merry Christmas! In honour of the occasion, let’s take a look inside the Christmas holiday that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent together at Windsor Castle in 1860.

The Royal Family spent many christmases at Windsor and we have an account of that 1860 holiday thanks to Viscount Torrington, a lord in waiting, who wrote to the editor of The Times with his memories of the celebrations. He wrote,

“The Queen’s private sitting-rooms, three in number were lighted up with Christmas trees hung from the ceiling, the chandeliers being taken down. These trees, of immense size, beside others on th tables, were covered with bonbons and coloured wax lights. Some of the trees were made to appear as if partially covered with snow…”

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? We’d love to see what Christmas trees suspended from the ceiling looked like – maybe he just means there were held up with cords attached to the ceiling?? In any event the bonbons and coloured wax lights sound just perfect. Wonder what they used to make the trees appear to be partially covered with snow. Icing sugar?

There’s more!

“Even as in a public bazaar, where people jostle one another, so lords, grooms, Queen and princes laighted and talked, forgot to bow, and freely turned their backs on one another. Little princesses, who on ordinary occasions dare hardly look at a gentleman in waiting, in the happiest manner showed each person they could lay hands on the treasures they had received.” 

Can you imagine forgetting to bow and such? Tsk, tsk.

A visitor to the royal kitchens during the Christmas holiday of 1860 described seeing the following:

  • 50 turkeys
  • A baron of beef weighing 350lb
  • Sole
  • Pheasant
  • Woodcock
  • Goose
  • Duck
  • Plum pudding
  • Cabinet Pudding
  • Lemon jellies
  • Apple tarts
  • Mince pies

So, the Royals knew how to do it up and certainly didn’t go hungry! Notably, each member of the household was given a turkey dinner as well as pies to take home.

Here’s a more modern look at Windsor in the snow.

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

The Walk to Church at Sandringham on Christmas Day ~ The York Girls Part One

One of our favourite royal events of the year is the annual Christmas Day appearance of the royal family at Sandringham. The family gathers together at this royal retreat and walk to the 11am church service each December 25th. They’ve had their Christmas Eve festivities, where they exchange presents (laid out on trestle tables with name tags on each) and have a formal Christmas dinner. After breakfast on Christmas Day the get on their coats and hats and head out to church….

Here’s a look at Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York (the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York) over the years…

2002: A very festive showing from the lovely Princess Eugenie…love the red, the enthusiastic hat, and the matching long coat with boots. Very Christmas-Day-Princess-Perfect. Beatrice made a good effort, but something about her coat and hat reminds me of Mary Poppins here…

With Prince Andrew
A better look at Eugenie's coat and hat

2003: Eugenie in Winter White and Beatrice in Christmas Red…and…some serious snakeskin boots?? Not so sure about the boots, but Beatrice seems to always work the ‘fashion forward’ angle, rather than classic style. So, whatever floats your boat. Again, Eugenie looks Christmas-Day-Princess-Perfect. You just can’t go wrong in Winter White in our opinion.

Eugenie (L), Beatrice (R)

2004: Well, we’re not really sure what’s going on with Eugenie here in a blanket-green-plaid number and red velvet skirt. Beatrice has pulled out  an unusually classic look with a grey skirt and jacket suit. The black accessories are nice. Overall, not terribly festive, but it’s a win in our books.

Beatrice in grey, Eugenie in red and green

2005: And The Year of the Magical Purple Hat. As anyone who witnessed the Royal Wedding this year knows, Beatrice loves her crazy hats. This is not a new thing, as evidenced by her choice for Christmas 2005. It is truly something to behold. The height, the colour, the shape, the volume of it…well, it’s very…Dr. Seuss. Or Willy Wonka. She definitely keeps things interesting! We wonder if she has pulled this one out since? Eugenie’s maroon beret and cream coat combo is lovely and festive.

Beatrice (L), Eugenie (R)

Join us tomorrow for the York Girls Christmas Hat Review Part Two!

Althorp House: The Ancestral Home of Diana, Princess of Wales

This post is for those of us who love learning more about the country estates of England. Today we are going to discuss Althorp,  the country estate of the Spencer Family (as in Lady Diana Spencer). The origins of the name Althorp aren’t definitely known, but it’s worth noting that the name is traditionally pronounced ‘Althrop’ even though the spelling is ‘Althorp.’ The estate encompasses 14,000 acres and is located across parts of Northamptonshire, Norfolk, and Warwickshire. That is huge! To put things in perspective, Monaco is just 485 acres (3.5% of the size of the Althorp estate).

This aerial shot gives a great view of the grounds surrounding the main house:

So let’s start at the beginning. Althorp was originally a village and the remnants of that village can be seen today in the form of earthworks in certain parts of the estate. Althorp Village is mentioned in the Domesday Book which was completed in 1086 so there is certainly a lot of history on these grounds.

At some point, the village disappeared and Althorp House was built in 1508 by a family by the name of Catesby. The house and lands were purchased from them by Sir John Spencer in 1522 with the fortune he had made rearing sheep. His uncle, also named John Spencer, had been a tenant on the Althorp grounds. Originally a brick building, it was redone in the 1700s to resemble the house as it is today.

In 1975,  Diana’s father inherited the title of Earl Spencer and Diana went from being the ‘Honourable Diana Spencer’ to the elevated ‘Lady Diana Spencer.’ The family moved from Park House on the Sandringham Estate to Althorp (click here for our post on Park House). When she spoke to Andrew Morton for Diana Her True Story, Diana recalled, “When I was 13 we moved to Althorp in Northampton and that was a terrible wrench, leaving Norfolk, because that’s where everybody who I’d grown up with lived. We had to move because grandfather died and life took a very big turn.”

Lady Diana with her siblings (from left) Sarah, Charles and Jane and her father the 8th Earl Spencer

Diana lived at Althorp while not at boarding school and it was here that Diana first properly met Charles when he came to visit Althorp with her sister Sarah. Diana remembered, “I remember him coming to Althorp to stay, my husband, and the first impact was ‘God, what a sad man.’ He came with his labrador…I made a lot of noise and he liked that and he came up to me after dinner and we had a big dance and he said, “Will you show me the gallery?” and I was just about to show him the gallery and my sister Sarah comes up and tells me to push off and I said, “At least, let me tell you where the switches are to the gallery because you won’t know where they are” and I disappeared. And he was charm itself and when I stood next to him the next day, a 16-year old, for someone like that to show you any attention – I was just sort of amazed.”

Diana Dancing at Althorp

The interior of the house is generally considered its strongest asset as the Spencer family has assembled an impressive collection of portrait art including several pieces painted by the Flemish master Anthony van Dyck. The estate stable block has been converted into an exhibition devoted to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales and provides an attractive sandstone setting that effectively offsets the imposing facade of the house.

I was able to visit the estate back in 2003 and really enjoyed the Diana exhibit; it is done very respectfully and includes footage of Diana and her siblings as children taken by their father. As you probably know, after her funeral Diana was interred on a small island in the middle of a lake near the estate. The island is closed to the public, but you can walk in the grounds surrounding the house and get quite close to the lake if you wish.

In September 2009, Lord Spencer started a major restoration project repairing the roof, stonework and the mathematical tiles which clad the building. To learn more, check out Althorp’s official website by clicking here.

Have any of you been to Althorp for a visit? We’d love to hear!

Kate and William’s Future Kensington Palace Apartment

As we discussed in Part Two of A Tale of Two Cottages: The Homes of William and Kate, the couple currently lives in Nottingham Cottage, or ‘Nott Cott’ on the palace grounds. When it was originally announced that William and Kate would be moving there it was said that they only planned to live there for a couple of years until something larger could be found and prepared.

Well, we now have more details on their next, more permanent London base. An apartment is being renovated at Kensington Palace to accommodate them and their ‘household’ – that is their office and staff. A spokesman for St. James’ Palace said, ‘It is expected that the apartment will not be ready for occupation until at least the middle of 2013.” The exact apartment that the couple will be moving into is apartment 1A, the old home of Princess Margaret. Here is an excellent picture from the Daily Mail:

Via The Daily Mail

This is tremendously exciting for us, since we have been in this apartment! As we reported in our post, ‘Hauntings at Kensington Palace‘, one of us royal posters went on the Halloween haunted tour at Kensington Palace. The tour began and ended in Lord Snowdon’s study (the husband of Prince Margaret). We were met on the private road next to the Palace by the tour guides, since the park was closed at that time if night (the tour started at 6:45pm). Because of this, we entered the palace by a side door, not the regular public entry way for tours.

The side door we entered by passed a small, private garden into what was once a reception room in Princess Margaret’s apartment. This reception room is off Margaret’s famous rose garden in the courtyard, and has wall-to-ceiling windows looking into the garden. We believe this was Princess Margaret’s ‘garden room’. It was dark when we were rushed through this room, but it would have lovely natural light during the day time. It also has a gorgeous fireplace and mantle. The lights were off when we went through this room, but the palace staff had placed several battery powered tea light candles into the fireplace which was a nice touch. At the end of the tour we exited from the same reception room to the outside and I tried to walk as slowly as I could on the way out to see as much as possible in the dark.

Garden off 1A

Anyway, after coming in through this dark reception room we entered Lord Snowdon’s study, which is where the 20 people on the sold-out tour could put there coats and bags for the next hour or so. The study had  creaky hardwood floors and crown moldings. A window looked out into front of the palace. Next we entered what looks to be a grand foyer, with a bathroom off of it. This foyer connects to the upstairs (we were on the ground floor) and we suspect, also to one or two other rooms on the main floor. It is also where a ghost has been seen several times by palace staff, as we reported in our previous post.

Ground Floor Foyer at 1A
Another view of the foyer

At the end of the tour to get back to the study we walked through hallways in this apartment that were in the midst of being refurbished, with new carpeting (dark red) and floor protecters and boards everywhere. It also had the smell of fresh paint. We were advised to watch our step. Interestingly, this refurbishment was not for William and Kate but rather for the offices and use of the Historic Royal Palaces staff, who have had the use of the space in the year’s since Princess Margaret’s death in 2002. The Daily Mail reports that Historic Royal Palaces uses the apartment ‘for offices, classrooms, storage and exhibitions.’

Princess Margaret in her Drawing Room. Via The Daily Mail.

In order for William and Kate to move in, Historic Royal Palaces had to hand this space back to the Royal Household, who have spent a lot of funds getting the space refurbished to be used for their purposes. It is reported that the Queen and Prince Charles have been involved so that this transfer could take place, and Historic Royal Palaces will be reimbursed for the costs of the refurbishment that they will not get to use. Too bad they didn’t have the foresight before this all went down!

The Daily Mail reports that an exhibition has been planned for the apartment in 2012 which will still take place. (We don’t yet know what this exhibition is but if it’s open to the public we’l be attending and will do a full report here at The Royal Post!).

Updated October 2012: Both Royal Posters were able to check out the 2012 exhibits: One was Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess and the other was Victoria Revealed. Both were a lot of fun.

After the exhibition, the apartment will handed over to William and Kate in September 2012 to be renovated. The offices of Historic Royal Palaces will be relocated a new area within the Palace.The offices of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will also be located at Kensington Palace and moved from their current location at St.James’ Palace.


Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon’s Kitchen. Via Historic Royal Palaces
Princess Margaret’s Drawing Rooms

Updated July 24, 2013: William and Kate’s announcement that they had named Baby Cambridge George Alexander Louis was issued from Kensington Palace instead of St. James’ Palace. This is a first!

Here are a few more pictures of the apartment. Once William and Kate take over, it’s unlikely that photos of the interior will be made public, so we might as well enjoy these!

Updated October 3, 2013: 

Well, Us Weekly is reporting that Kate & William’s apartment features:

  • 3 main bedrooms
  • A master bedroom with his and her’s bathrooms
  • A day nursery and night nursery, which will eventually be converted to a playroom
  • 5 reception rooms

A Tale of Two Cottages: The Homes of William and Kate ~ Part Two

In Part One, we talked about Cambridge Cottage Number One, in Wales. Today, we move on to their abode on the grounds of Kensington Palace (or KP as Diana called it)!

A good aerial view of the KP building and grounds

So, as most royal watchers know, Princes William Harry lived with their parents at Kensington Palace as children. After Diana and Charles’ divorce, Diana took over apartments 8 and 9 and William and Harry had their own bedrooms there. After Diana’s death, William and Harry’s London base became St. James’ Palace where Charles had his ‘household’ – that is, his staff of secretaries, press officers, etc, as well as his residence.

Diana, Charles and William at their KP home

When William and Kate’s engagement was announced, there was much speculation over where they would live while in London. Kensington Palace was an obvious choice. One possibility was that they would purchase their own private home, in a residential area, which was eventually turned down for security reasons. Other past royals have been able to live in private residences in London. For example, the Duke and Duchess of York (that is, the parents of Queen Elizabeth, NOT Fergie and Andrew) lived at 145 Piccadilly, in a town house near Hyde Park. They moved into Buckingham Palace when the Duke’s brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.

145 Piccadilly, London

Cambridge Cottage #2: ‘Nott Cott’

Via The Sun

Above is an aerial view of the grounds showing the cottage William and Kate are living in while in London. The cottage is called Nottingham Cottage, or ‘Nott Cott’, for those in the know. What a great name. Please can we call it Nott Cott from here on out?

The name comes from the original name for the building that is Kensington Palace. In 1689, King William III and Queen Mary II bought Nottingham House, which had been built for the Earl of Nottingham. This building was re-modelled into Kensington Palace by Sir Christopher Wren (who was also the architect for St Paul’s Cathedral).

Here is an excellent photo of the grounds from the Daily Mail:

Interestingly, at the time that Diana and Charles lived at KP, Diana’s sister Lady Jane, lived in another house on the grounds called the Old Barracks. Lady Fellowes is married to Baron Fellowes, who was once private secretary to the Queen.

Diana and her sister (and neighbour) Jane at Wimbledon in 1984. Via The Daily Mail.

At that time, Diana was working as a nanny for Mr. and Mrs. Robertson, an American couple living in London who had a young son named Patrick. In her book The Diana I Knew, Mary Robertson recounts how Diana would mention that she’d taken Patrick to visit her sister at her home “in Kensington”. She never mentioned that her sister’s home was Nott Cott, and within the palace walls. So fun!

So, what is the cottage like inside? It has two bedrooms, two small reception rooms, a kitchen, and a small garden at the front. and at the time of William and Kate’s moving in, it was reported that Prince Philip gave the couple advice on how to refit the kitchen to use the space more efficiently. We’re not sure if this is true, but it does sound very much like something Prince Philip would do! Kate also reportedly purchased candles and air fresheners to freshen the place up, which apparently was rather musty. They also had the interior walls of the cottage painted before they moved in. The space was ready for them to move into when they were back from their Canada Tour in July 2011.

The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace

It has been reported recently that when William and Kate move into a larger, remodeled apartment in Kensington Palace in 2013, Prince Harry will move into Nottingham Cottage which seems like a great fit.

We are very excited to hear that they will be moving into Apartment 1A in the fall of 2013, since one of us recently walked through it when we attended the special one-off tour at Kensington Palace called ‘Eerie Evening Tour at the Enchanted Palace‘! Most tours do not include this part of the palace so we were very lucky! We will give you all the details of what we saw and what changes they are expected to make.

Updated: Check out our post on the tour and Kate and William’s new apartment here.

Hauntings at Kensington Palace

Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

This weekend one Royal Poster was lucky to join one of Kensington Palace’s first ‘Eerie Evening Tours of Enchanted Palace’. There are four tours scheduled on each night between Friday Oct 28th and Monday October 31st this year. This was the first time they’ve done these tours but it may become a regular feature in the future,  this time of year. Tickets sold out quickly, and if you are planning on visiting London next fall, we highly recommend this tour!

The tour stated at 6:45, after we were met in the dark by guides with torches at the side gate. We started in Apartment 1A, in what used to be Lord Snowdon’s study (Lord Snowdon married Princess Margaret in 1960; they were divorced in 1978), which now has some of his pictures of Princess Margaret on the walls, including the one below.

From that point on, the rest of the tour was in the dark, with low lighting and tea lights. which was a unique way to see the Palace. It certainly had a different atmosphere from the daytime tours!

Stories were expertly told by the guides of past occupants, including princess, Kings and Queens, and their tragedies. There were a lot of stories of palace staff members seeing ghosts, including that of Peter the Wild, a feral child who was taken in by King George I, who has been seen running up the King’s staircase.

Peter the Wild Boy

Another memorable tale was that of Princess Sophia, daughter of George III, who had a tragic life and has been seen in her old apartment, 1A, by staff. When Princess Margaret was asked about the rumours of the hauntings at Kensington Palace she famously said, ‘There is only one princess who lives at this house and that’s me‘.

Princess Sophia

There was, respectfully, no mention of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived in the Palace from 1981 until her death. Princes William and Harry spend their early years living in the palace (Charles and Diana had apartments 8 and 9). Here’s a picture of them there, below:

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge live on the Kensington Palace grounds in a cottage. (Please stay tuned for our post on the cottage coming shortly.) Other current inhabitants of Kensington Palace are Prince and Princess Micheal of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

On that note, here’s a picture of Kate and Pippa Middleton on October 31, 2007, dressed up for Halloween celebrations at Mahiki nightclub in London. Kate appears to be a witch while Pippa got into the spirit of Halloween colours

Happy Halloween!

Via JustJared

Royal Homes: The Sandringham Estate

Let’s take a look at one of the British Royal Family’s private homes, Sandringham.

The royal Sandringham estate is privately owned by the Royal family and consists of 20,000 acres. So, if the UK ever becomes a republic, this is one of the properties that they will still have in their personal holdings.

It was purchased in 1862 by Queen Victoria as a home for her son the Prince of Wales who had the original hall torn down and rebuilt in 1870 into the structure that sits on the site today.

Since the time of Queen Victoria, the House has been used as a private country retreat and home for the family. The Queen has a strong attachment to the estate and spends much of the winter there. Since the Queen’s father, King George VI, died in 1952 at Sandringham, she has spent the anniversary of his death with her family at the House. It is her official base until February.

Park House, Sandringham

Interestingly, Lady Diana Spencer spend her early years on the estate. Her father, then Viscount Spencer, rented Park House and Diana’s mother, Frances Ruth Roche was actually born at Park House in 1936. Her father was Edmund Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy, and her mother Ruth, Lady Fermoy was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).

Park House, on the Sandringham Estate

Park House was originally built for overflow guests from the Royal Sandringham House. The grounds had an outdoor pool and a tennis court.

When speaking to Andrew Morton for Diana Her True Story, Diana remembered, “We were all shunted over to Sandringham for holidays. Used to go and see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the film. We hated it so much. We hated going over there. The atmosphere was always very strange when we went there and I used to kick and fight anyone who tried to make us go over there and Daddy was most insistent because it was rude. I said I didn’t want to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the third year running.”

Here is a famous picture of Diana in the Park House pool at Sandringham as a child. Love it:

Diana Spencer, Park House
Diana and Charles Spencer, Park House

Park House is now Park House Hotel and is equipped for disabled people. Read more here.

Activities at Sandringham

The Sandringham estate offers the royal family the opportunity to take part in many of the outdoor sports they enjoy – horse riding, walking and pheasant shooting. Because the public can access much of the walking grounds, we sometimes get glimpses of the royals at play:

Kate Middleton at a Sandringham Shoot
Prince Charles riding at Sandringham
The Queen and her dogs at Sandringham
The Royal Family at a Peasant Shoot, Sandringham

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene

Another significant structure on the estate is the parish church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Princess Eugenie’s Christening took place here on December 23rd, 1990 (click here to read our post on Royal Christenings) during the morning church service (she is  the only royal granchild to not have had a private christening ceremony, as members of the public could have attended this service).

On August 30, 1961, Eugenie’s aunt, The Hon. Diana Spencer, was christened there as well.

Diana Spencer

Each Christmas Day, the Royal family walks to the church for the 11am service. In December we will be posting a series on this (Royal Christmas Day Fashion and Hats), so stay tuned!