Princess Diana's home reopens to public after £12m refurbishment
A £12 million, two-year refurbishment of the public half of Kensington Palace is due to be finished this week.
The Queen, joined by Prince Philip, this week cut the ribbon to mark the reopening, which holds a new Victoria Revealed exhibition. The Queen herself took a tour of the rooms, and watched footage of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, as well as viewing displays of outfits worn by the former monarch, including her wedding dress.
While staff have been kitted out with glamorous new Jaeger uniforms, the building itself has taken delivery of dresses and pieces to display in the renovated rooms.
There's a brand new entrance, which you access through a cast-iron glass loggia, and you can now visit the rooms on the first floor where Victoria was born and spent much of her childhood.
After going up the Stone Staircase next to the new entrance, you come to the Red Saloon, where Victoria first laid eyes in Prince Albert.
There are now interactive displays and toys for children to play with in what was once Victoria's bedroom, while quotes by her are inscribed on mirrors, furniture and even carpets.
Curator Deirdre Murphy told the Daily Mail: "We are telling a story here. We are not refurnishing rooms. But for people who want a traditional, historic-house experience, the material, the objects are still here.
"We have wonderful portraits, wonderful jewellery, insignia, Victoria's wedding dress, gifts exchanged between her and Albert, beautiful and evocative sketches they did of each other, her dolls and her dolls' house and even the first surviving pair of black silk baby shoes she wore after her father died when she was just eight months old."
Ms Murphy added that she wanted to smash the perception of Victoria as a "fat, starchy, grumpy old lady in a black dress", and offer a more realistic idea of what she was really like: someone who "liked to have fun, she liked to stay up dancing until four o'clock in the morning and Albert couldn't keep up with her. She loved music, she was a pretty good artist and she wore pretty, colourful dresses."
As well as an exhibition on Queen Victoria, there is also display of some of Princess Diana's dresses, three of which have never been shown in public before.
Kensington Palace will officially reopen on 26 March.
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