Finally!!!! We finally get to see into the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge aka Wills & Kate’s Kensington pad. The Obamas were in London last weekend and they were invited over to for a supper date with the Cambridges. Cameras were actually inside to capture the night. Which means this: we FINALLY get to see Wills & Kate’s new decor.
It’s fabulous too. Veddy, veddy upper crust English. Sort of the type of decor that someone who dresses their little boy like this would have:
Yes, this type of decor. Because when you see this picture of the cutest little boy in the world, Prince George AKA Future King of England, and he is dressed like this, you just instinctively know this is someone from the upper echelons of British society. No doubt, it is someone with very fine English decor.
When it was announced that the Cambridges would be moving into Princess Margaret’s old apartment at Kensington Palace (KP) I wrote a story about their new digs. HERE. But, in the three years since then, there hasn’t been much in the way of pictures of their new apartment. No photos at all, which is not a surprise.
The Cambridges are very private about their personal life. There are more pictures of the Queen’s rooms than Wills & Kate’s. Besides their KP apartment the couple also have their country home on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, Anmer Hall – and apparently that is where Prince George is enrolled in school, which means they are planning to spend a lot of time there, as opposed to in the city.
Prince George’s first day at Nursery school near his country house.
But of course, as soon as news leaked that Prince George was going to school near his country house (actually 10 miles away) it was quickly announced that George had also been enrolled at Wetherby School, in London, where William and his brother Harry had also gone. Above is William’s first day at Wetherby, dropped off by Princess Diana.
So, in reality, it appears the couple will be dividing their time between London and the country.
And here is Prince Harry’s first day at Wetherby. Those are just the cutest uniforms. Again, you wouldn’t mistake these two as being from the ghetto. As they say – clothes makes the man!
Anmer Hall. The couple’s country estate is being completely renovated. New attic windows were installed, as was a new roof, which caused a huge stir because it looks bright orange. The public was reassured that the color will tone down in time. Whew! I was so worried about that!
The Cambridges are obviously country people. Kate’s parent live nearby Anmer Hall and the two families are extremely close. Rumors are that Wills even helped pay for his in-laws new house. Without a doubt, the Cambridges would prefer to live in the country full time, but their royal duties preclude that and so, Kensington Palace will be host to sophisticated entertaining and the decor must be up to the task.
Kensington Palace was once just a country house before the monarchs William & Mary bought it in 1689 as a cure for William’s asthma. Over the years, the house was greatly added onto and now is quite large. As time went on, subsequent monarchs preferred living at other residences such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor instead of Kensington Palace.
Left neglected, KP was allowed to fall into disrepair. It wasn't until when Victoria lived there that it was renovated by her mother, the Duchess of Kent. Victoria was born there in 1819 and lived at Kensington Palace until she became Queen. Later, Victoria gave apartments at Kensington to her two daughters and later, royals have since installed various siblings, cousins, and staff at Kensington's apartments.
The State Rooms are now open to the public, although these rooms can be rented for private affairs. In fact, last summer Paris Hilton's younger sister was married in the Orangery at Kensington Palace.
Nicky Hilton in the Kensington Palace gardens.
Kensington Palace today.
Here is an aerial view that shows who lives where: #3 are the State Apartments, which are open to the public. #2 is where the Cambridges live. Their apartment takes up the entire wing. Their front door is located inside the private courtyard. #1 is the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester’s 21 room home. He is first cousin of the Queen. #4 is the 10 room apartment of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. #6 Across from their front door is the private garden that was once was used only by Diana. The Kents use it today and have installed a large reflecting pond and garden house there. #5 is Princess Diana’s apartment – two were put together to create a big enough house for Charles & Diana and their sons, although Charles apparently never spent much time there. It remains empty today. #6 is Wren House, a very lavish separate house where the Duke of Kent lives. #7 is a modest apartment used by the Queen’s staff, as needed. #8 Prince Charles’ male secretary used to here. It was described as one of the most exquisitely decorated apartments at KP. I would LOVE to see it!!! #9 Nottingham Cottage is where Wills & Kate used to live. #10 is a series of smaller apartments used by staff. Prince Harry lives in a tiny apartment after moving from Clarence House where his father and Camilla live. It is rumored that he will one day take over a larger apartment, as soon as one is available.
At the back of KP are the old barracks and stable block. Paul Burrell, Diana’s infamous butler, and his family lived on the second floor. Jane, Lady Fellowes, Diana’s sister, and her husband Robert, Lord Fellowes, Private Secretary to The Queen also lived here.
An early floor plan. The pink apartments are the State Apartments, where Queen Victoria grew up. The bright yellow rooms are Prince & Princess Michael’s, while the lime green apartment is Princess Diana’s. The light yellow rooms are the Duke & Duchess of Gloucester and the row of lilac rooms are #1A – The Cambridge’s. Their apartment actually extends to the upper right corner when the yellow is.
Kensington Palace originally looked like this – a quite small country house.
William &Mary added four pavilions onto the corners of the original house and added the L-shaped addition which today contains Wills & Kate’s and the Gloucester’s apartments. Later, additions were added to the state rooms so that the four pavilions were no longer visible:
1794. How Kensington Palace looked with further additions to the state rooms that hide the 4 pavilions. Today, there is a fence that separates the state apartments from the L-shaped wing were the Cambridges live.
What is interesting is that I noticed when you look at the aerial view of KP – you can still see the original four pavilions from the 17th century that are all but hidden inside the building’s walls. I outlined the four pavilions that were once the corners of KP.
Is this a painting or reality? Beautiful. Princess Victoria’s rooms are on the top floor at the left three windows. She was held at Kensington Palace almost like a prisoner until she became Queen. She wasn’t allowed to walk down the stairs without an adult holding her hand, even until she was almost an adult herself.
Before the renovation: And, the side of the state rooms. To the left is the long row of Will & Kate’s four floor apartment. There is the brick wall that keeps out strangers. This has been all redone today.
An aerial view of the state rooms, the Queen’s Gallery to the right. In the middle is the courtyard – where the Cambridge’s front door is located. You can see the tall clock where the cars drive under.
And looking the opposite direction – the clock tower is at the bottom. The red circle on the right is #1A while Princess Diana’s old apartment is across the courtyard on the left.
And behind the palace, the back side – where you enter Will & Kate’s courtyard, under the clock tower.
Here is where you enter – under the arch, to reach Will & Kate’s apartment.
An early picture of the entrance to the beautiful clock tower.
Once you drive under the clock tower arch, you enter the courtyard. Here is an old picture of the courtyard (though not much has changed in 100s of years!) At the back, on the right is an arched window – that is the King’s Stairs inside the state rooms! To the very right is Will & Kate’s apartment.
1961. How Wills & Kate’s apartment #1A looked when Princess Margaret and Tony Snowdon moved in. Originally Lord Carisbrooke, Queen Victoria’s last living grandson, lived here until he died at 72. The 18th century apartment is 4 stories, including the basement.
Here is the beautiful state room’s King Stairs. The arched window overlooks the clock tower courtyard.
Here, in the courtyard with their two children are Princess Margaret and the Earl Snowdon.
A view inside the long hall, off which all the rooms in the apartment flow.
The long hall in #1A. The hall was renovated for Princess Margaret. Through that door you reach the State Rooms.
After: The hall with beautiful molding and stone floors. Apparently, expenses were an issue and shortcuts were taken when they were able to. One such shortcut were the floors. The stone replaced the marble that the courtiers wanted.
Before the Cambridges’ renovation: The long hall on the courtyard side with the grey and white stone floor. So curious to see what this looks like today! This is the hall from the opposite side.
And later, exhibitions and dinners were held in the apartment during the years it was empty after Margaret had passed on.
There are three reception rooms along the long hall. Here is an early view, with the original ceiling molding that was later removed. Also, the door shows the enfilade.
Originally a cabinet was installed – this has since been removed.
And the same room, from the opposite side. Here in 1981, Princess Margaret posed in her blue drawing room. Cream curtains. Love the blue lamp.
Her desk is at the left with a pair of mirrors flanking the beautiful door. At the very very left, you can see the orange sofa.
And Margaret in front of the door with the blackamoors flanking it. You can see that the library behind her has orange walls, which decor-wise makes sense. The opposite of blue on the color wheel is orange.
And at her desk with her collection of paper weights. She collects blue opaline like me!
Below is a selection of her blue opaline that was sold at the 2006 Christie’s auction of Margaret’s possessions:
She obviously loved this color so much. There were 3 pairs of blue opaline lamps at the sale.
In front of the curtains in the blue room. 1982.
Later, the room is cleared for exhibitions and dinners. You can see the fireplace here. This is the same room where the Cambridges entertained the Obamas.
And the opposite view. You can see they left the cream curtains up. The window seats hide the radiators.
Snowdon in his office.
And in her bathroom, on the way to a party, her husband took this picture. I love this!!! Princess Margaret looks so happy and pretty here.
Was it the same night?
The tiara was auctioned off after she passed. What a beauty it is.
The Earl was the nephew of designer/artist Oliver Messel, one of the Bright Young Things. Tony loved contemporary design and he put his stamp on the kitchen. The kitchen is actually not on the long wing, but is next to the clock tower wing, in the corner.
The chef. You can see the long wing at the right and the state room at the back, through the windows.
The brick wall goes up – to create privacy for the Gloucesters and #1A.
Outside garden. Where the two red XXs are – you can see the white garden room that Margaret installed in her private area.
Before the Cambridges moved in, you could enter the garden – there is the white trellis garden room that Margaret put in.
A tourist snapped these pictures – they were just wandering around the private garden. No longer!
Inside the white garden room, with the black door that leads to the apartment.
By the fence, Princess Margaret also installed a mirror and trellis arches with two statues. I’m sure this area has been completely relandscaped now. But…..
But, here is the family’s Christmas card from this year – and what do I see? The same mirror, trellis and statue! Nothing has changed! I wonder if the same garden room is still there too?
And how adorable is this picture? Did you notice that Princess Charlotte’s tiny shoe fell off? And the red train that William is pointing to? That is obviously how he is distracting George to behave! Too cute!
Princess Margaret’s children and dog in the pram in Kensington Park with the nanny.
It comes full circle. Kate is seen around Kensington Palace’s gardens – a lot, apparently. She walks the dog Lupo and pushes the babies in a smaller pram than the old Royal pram.
At Charlotte’s christening – Kate borrowed the old royal pram, which is gorgeous. Almost as gorgeous as this family!!! Kate look exceptionally beautiful that day.
The renovation continued: And next to the state rooms – behind the privacy brick wall, you can see all the scaffolding that was covering the Cambridges’ apartment during the renovation. Their cousins, the Gloucerster’s apartment is to the far left. It is rumored that one day Prince Harry might move there.
Since Will & Kate moved into #1A, we haven’t seen hardly anything from either KP or Anmer Hall. Kate took this picture of Prince George and the newborn Princess Charlotte sitting on a white sofa, dressed in blue and white, and you can just barely make out a printed fabric at the window. I think this was taken at Anmer Hall.
And a few months later, we got Kate’s photograph of the darling Charlotte sitting in a painted French chair with trendy nailheads and an aqua and cream small checked fabric – it looks like a Chelsea Edition fabric to me. You can just barely see a painted chair at the window. I love this decor and wish we could see more. When the picture came out, I studied it in detail – trying to see more, knowing there wasn’t “more” to see!!!
Until now…that the Obamas have come to town!
The last time the Obamas visited the Cambridges was 2011 and the young couple received them at Buckingham Palace in the 1844 room. Such a pretty room! I love how the rug picks up the blue silk on the furniture and the yellow in the rug picks up the wallpaper and stone columns.
But today, they received the Obamas at their new apartment. And here is the new facade with the portico, double front door in black, stone steps, and three lanterns – one is under the roof. And notice that new roof, it cost a small fortune!
AND…here they come. Under the clock tower in the Beast, Obama’s special car, comes the President and First Lady. Notice the secret service man in the window? And be sure to notice the lanterns with the crown atop them!
It was raining, so the President held the umbrella to be sure that Michelle didn’t ruin her hair! I can relate! Nothing makes my hair go crazy more than a lightly drizzling rain.
And here we go!
Kisses! Prince Harry has joined them.
Getting ready. Considerate Obama hides the umbrella. I don’t think I realized before how considerate he actually is. Good manners.
And say Cheese!
OK. So did the Cambridges’ social secretary call the Obamas’ social secretary and say - Jackets, no ties, dresses for the ladies? You know that happened. I love Michelle’s dress and matching coat and shoes. LOVE! Kate looks lovely, as usual. Never saw a bad picture of her.
A bit larger photo of the front. OK, who cares about the humans – show us the porch!
Thank you. Notice the crown on the gas lanterns – the “material” is RED!!!! OMG. Too much!
Apparently this are the royal lanterns – they are all over Kensington Palace and have been for decades.
A different shape of the royal lantern. These gas lanterns each have the crest of the monarch who is ruling when the lantern is made. Today there are only five men who go around and light these remaining gas lights. The electric lights are now in the majority, though design lovers favor the gas lights – of course!
Even the gutters have a royal stamp on them.
So glad the ladies aren’t in Louboutins. I get so tired of the red soles. OK – ready to go in? I am!
AND, what do we have here? I see a wee thing in a robe and pjs greeting the President! SOO CUTE!! Notice there is a glass lantern in the entry hall, along with art work.
But wait, here are the details of the Will & Kate’s new house:
In the new apartment, there is the long hall that faces the courtyard. On the other side of the long hall, facing the private gardens, are the three reception rooms (most likely 1 drawing room, 1 library, and 1 dining room.) Upstairs are two master bedrooms left over from Princess Margaret, though the Cambridges will only use one, making a total of 3 bedroom suites, including one guest suite. The children will have their private nursery for sleeping and one for playing in, as well as the outdoors play yard that is walled in. Their nanny has her own private bedroom right next door to the childrens.
There are 2 kitchens – one for family and 1 for staff (although I think maybe the staff kitchen is actually a catering kitchen for large gatherings) an elevator, and on the top floor are nine bedrooms for staff. There is a basement with a laundry, staff break room, and luggage room (must be nice!) that replaces Lord Snowdon’s dark room. There are rumors, not confirmed, of a gym down there. The house now has underfloor heating, encrypted wifi, a TV projector and a panic room.
When Princess Margaret lived here there were 30 rooms. Today, the layout has changed and the rooms have been enlarged – with there now being only 20 rooms.
After news of the two kitchens broke, the tabloids revealed that Kate had also torn out the newly installed $60,000 at Anmer Hall. People started calling her “Three Kitchen Kate.” The public was not pleased, to say the least.
Full circle, Princess Margaret was also accused of wasting tax payers money on #1A, which years later Snowdon wrote was a complete untruth. He wrote about all the ways they saved money – even making their own doors!
He also claimed that the numbers of rooms was greatly exaggerated. There was nowhere near 30 rooms in #1A and many of the rooms were actually small storerooms. The main drawing room was by far the largest of the bunch:
And here is the main drawing room. This is the room that was once blue when Princess Margaret lived here. A rug is layered atop what appears to be a faux seagrass. Two white sofas, with a blue/white braided trim and fringe, face each other. Behind the sofa is a table that holds two lamps with yellow and white striped lamp shades. At the back right corner is a round dumb waiter that holds drinks. The walls are cream. The doors are the same, a stained mahogany. And there is are a few Lucite tables to prove they are young and hip!
And here – the opposite side of the long room. At the windows are curtains, a tiny bit too long for my tastes, but who asked me? Love the sofas – with the beautiful blue and white braided trim!!!
LOVE! On the grand piano are a host of family pictures with large spring flowering branches. In between the windows is one of two matching gilt console tables.
A close up of the braided trim in blue and white and the chintz pillow. Love those lampshades and the marble urn bases!
Lit candles! And notice on the ottoman is a toy BO – the Obamas gifted the children with this stuffed toy replica of their dog, BO. So sweet that Will & Kate would even remember what the Obamas gave them and then, that they have kept it, and even pulled it out when they came to visit. I guess this is Royal Protocol. Should we all follow this?
Next time your mother in law comes over – be sure to get out the socks she gave your husband for Christmas and roll them out on the coffee table. Do this casually, like you always have the socks laying around – just like the BO dog!
OK – love that French bergere in the corner on the left. I love this room. It’s cozy and welcoming. Just beautiful. Understated too. It FITS them.
A bigger look at the art work. Called “A Page with Two Horses” by Albert Cuyp. From the Royal Collection, the painting features a black servant from the 17th century. The art world was abuzz wondering if the Obamas noticed the art work because the official name of the artwork is “The Negro Page.”
A bigger view of the art from the Royal Collection.
Hours before the Obamas arrived someone noticed the nameplate and aides frantically tried to pry it off. You can see in the picture that they put a plant in front of the painting where the nameplate is. I’m not sure why they were so worried? Frankly, the Obamas would not be offended at the word Negro. I would think they would be more worried what the Obamas would think of someone who has a large painting in their home that depicts a young slave. Or not?
What do you think? Is this a proper painting for the future King of England or not? Curious what you think. Honestly, I’m not sure what I think. I probably would not have brought the painting into the house from the Royal Collection – I might have picked a different one.
And then, the cutest! The Prince joins them – just casually (that word, again) in a blue and white robe and checked PJs (that just casually matches the sofa) – shaking hands with the President. That face!! What a ham he is! George, not Barack!
I think the internet stopped dead when this picture was released. George is beyond adorable. Even as cute as he is, all I could do is stare at those green malachite or opaline? lamps. LOVE!!! And notice all the books and photo albums in the console.
George’s dad looks so proud. Who can blame him?
Minutes after the source of the bathrobe was published, it was totally sold out! It’s hard to see here, but the robe is monogrammed, natch. Look at the shoes!! So adorable!!
Is that faux sisal or real sisal? Hard to tell. I think it might be wool because of the kids. Sisal and seagrass can be itchy on the bare knees.
And then, there was this. Besides the BO dog just casually placed on the ottoman, there is the rocking horse, just casually placed by the window because the Obamas gave it to George when he was born. Of course Will & Kate pulled it down from the attic and acted like it is always in the middle of the new drawing room.
Notice the table next to the window. Love!
And everyone claps for George. And then he goes off to bed. Notice Will’s face looking at Kate. He seems to really love her.
The ottoman is quite beautiful. I wonder if it is a Kime? And the blue and white braid is there too. The room is so elegant!
Notice the window seats with the brass screens. It’s a pretty way to hide the radiators.
The curtains have a grayish blue pattern in them. One thing I would have done differently - I think I would have done a silk cream and blue stripe or small check. I think that would give just a bit of folly and youthfulness to the room. These are pretty curtains, to be sure, and elegant, but I think something brighter and crisper might have been better. Kate…call me! I’m cheap!
The paneled door to the enfilade may be gone, but there is now a jib door hiding there. And look! A black antique chest acts as an end table here. And notice how deep the sofa is – Kate has to double up on her back pillows. Even the President needs a back pillow!
OK, they should have let George take BO off to bed with him. Instead everyone has to look at the stuffed toy all night.
Nice spring flowering braches on the piano.
Wonder what they are talking about?
The two Princes sit in matching antique gilt framed French chairs with blue and white fabric. Wills looks a little too big for his chair.
On the console, eagle eyes found this photo:
A card from their mother! So sweet!
The renovation facts:
The restoration cost around $2 million and took over 18 months to finish. The new roof cost $600,000 alone! Apparently in the long entry hall there are 2 19th century Corinthian lamps and there is a Persian rug worth $75,000. on loan from the royal storage room. All the original architectural fixtures were restored and kept in place like moldings and architraves. There is all new HVAC, wiring, and plumbing. Each window has a mesh curtain designed to catch shattered glass. In other words, no expense was spared for “3 Kitchen Kate.”
Do you love their room as much as I do? I found this room and it reminded me so much of Wills & Kates.
I can’t believe how much it looks like theirs, but this is more of a Southern look than English. You can shop the room HERE. At least the painting is acceptable!
The Cambridges weren’t the only Royals the Obamas visited. They also paid a visit to Windsor Castle.
President Obama flew to Windsor aboard this cool as can be helicopter! He landed on the grounds of Windsor where the Queen and Prince Philip waited by their Range Rover, a little bit different than the reception the Obamas got in Saudi Arabia.
Now get this. The president hopped into the drivers seat – and the press went nuts, “he’s driving?!!?!” They forgot that the driver in England sits on the right side.
Guess who was driving the President of the Free World? Prince Philip – aged 94!
OK, so he was only driving him on his private driveway, but hey, it’s a very looooooooong driveway!!!!!
Awkward! Is anyone talking?
And when they get to the house, the Queen, 90, jumps out of her car, unaided, so quickly that the President doesn’t even have time to open her door for her!
And off to the sitting room. I love the chinoiserie chest on the gilt stand. I can only imagine how many of those are just hanging around. Hmmm. That would make a nice place to hide a TV in – at #1A Kensington Palace.
And here they are. I’ve never seen this room before. Cute sofa Liz! I love her two remote controls. To be their decorator and to be able to use all those….things in the Royal Collection.
And then there was this:
Apparently the Queen has developed a relationship with Annie Leibovitz. Years ago Annie took photographs of the Queen that became as legendary as the photoshoot was, judging by the documentary that was made of the session.
The Queen stormed off after Annie asked her to remove her tiara. The Queen later said it was a misunderstanding. They must have patched things up because Annie was recently rehired to take more photos.
Here is how that original photoshoot went:
“I think it will look better without the crown, less dressy," Leibovitz says in the documentary, before the Queen interrupts her.
"Less dressy? What do you think this is?" the Monarch replies, pointing to the ceremonial robe she was wearing and giving an icy stare.
Above is a screenshot from the infamous documentary – the Queen was NOT pleased.
For the Queen’s 90th birthday, England’s longest reigning monarch has four new photographs by Leibovitz that are, well, fabulous:
Here is the Queen at Windsor with her favorite subjects, her dogs. She has 2 Corgis, Willow and Holly, and 2 Dorgis (half dachshunds and half Corgis) named Candy and VULCAN!? Those names!!!
And I love this one. The Queen with her only daughter, the Princess Royal, Anne. This was taken at Windsor in the White Drawing Room. What I love is how close they are sitting – actually touching.
I know they are mother and daughter, but it’s strange to think of the Queen that way. You forget, she is a mother after all – of four children.
This adorable photo – four generations – was taken to create stamps. Each face will be on its own stamp, and I assume the photo of all four will be a stamp too. As usual Prince George steals the show with his smile, his neat haircut, knee socks, and shorts.
And then there is this one – the Queen with her youngest grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Taken at Windsor’s Green Drawing Room, which looks beautiful, the Queen holds her youngest great grandchild, Princess Charlotte on her lap. To the left is the sweetest thing, Mia, Anne’s granddaughter, 2 years old, holds the Queen’s ever-present purse!!! The humor of it! And Isla, another of Anne’s grandchildren, in the peach skirt! Don’t even start with how cute Prince George is.
Of course the 8 year old grandson looks as if he would rather be anywhere else.
Their names below:
I hope you enjoyed this royal break.
And now, back to regularly scheduled programming. I know I promised the Louisiana Follie would be next, but I couldn’t pass this quickie up!
Next, the Louisiana Follie, I promise!
Do you love Bunny Williams, the author of Affair With A House? She is having a personal sale HERE.
To see her garden, completely in bloom Go HERE:and…
To see NEW pictures of Bunny's updated house go HERE.