Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces is undertaking a £12 million major project to transform Kensington Palace by 2012. The Palace could have closed for this time, or they could have chosen to do something extraordinary. They chose to do something extraordinary.
Last year I went to The Palace with William Tempest, to a meeting with curators Joanna Marschner and Alexandra Kim and the team from theatre company Wild Works. This was the first of many meetings to come and Joanna spoke about an extraordinary idea, it was a meeting of possibilities – which is in many ways what the Palace is all about.
I couldn’t envision how it was all going to come together. I saw the start of several of the princesses’ rooms and unusual objects being created in the work rooms of Kensington Palace. Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest, Stephen Jones, Aminaka Wilmont, Boudicca and illustrator and set designer Echo Morgan all choose a room and a story, and with Wild Works they created “The Enchanted Palace”.
The Enchanted Palace opened on March 26th and I had the opportunity to visit the Palace at night. It truly was enchanting – it felt alive and atmospheric. You often feel the need to whisper like you’re in a museum but the Palace is not a museum – it’s a place where people actually live. It was home to William and Mary, George II, the young Queen Victoria, and Diana, Princess of Wales. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Duke and Duchess of Kent and Duke and Duchess of Gloucester presently live in the west wing of the Palace.
Some will say this is not an exhibition for traditionalists, but I think it is. The Palace and it’s stories are celebrated and told again in new ways so that they are not forgotten, and the stories told through this exhibition are definitely stories to be remembered.
William Tempest – Queen Victoria‘s bedroom
Vivienne Westwood – Charlotte The Rebellious Princess
Boudicca -The Cupola Room
Wild Works Theatre company – Detectors keeping watch over The Palace. They are what makes the Palace come to life they are scurrying about with a ghost like quality playing musical instruments including a saw, watching over a missing princess and discussing time.
Aminaka Wilmont’s ‘dress of tears’ hangs above the bed in Queen Mary II
Council Chamber has two dresses, which belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret. The dresses are enclosed in glass cases surrounded by leafless trees.