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Learn about courts of days gone by at Kensington Palace

Published: Monday 29th of October 2012

Kensington Palace is not only one of the most spectacular palaces in London, it is also one of the most intriguing, with plenty of famous events having taken place behind its majestic walls.

Visitors to the stunning palace will be able to take part in captivating tales of the monarchy and court-life with House of Cards by theatre-makers Coney.

Coney has re-imagined the state apartments, bringing them to life through new multi-medium installations, live interactive theatre and costume from the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection which has never been seen before.

In the Queen's State Apartments visitors will learn about the private lives of Mary II and Anne. These two women experienced heartbreak, which became a tragedy of the nation.

In the intimate setting of the wood-panelled apartments, the audience will also experience the rise and fall of the Stuarts from the perspective of Little William - the Duke who died after overheating while dancing on his 11th birthday.

Each room in these apartments has been transformed to spectacular effect. Stunning installations look at the line of the Stuarts, from the Glorious Revolution that kicked off their dynasty, to the end of the Protestant line.

Visitors are also invited to play the 'Game of Court,' which will give them an insight as to what it was like to be a courtier in the Georgian era. People will discover the fascinating characters of the Georgian court, and mysterious performers will float around, letting their audience in on clues to help them progress through the hierarchy of the court. The King's Apartments are to become a social arena again, with visitors trading gossip, conversing and stumbling across the unexpected.

There are plenty of highlights in the King's State Apartments too. Imagine the key players in Georgian London as they climb the stairs to visit the king.

In the presence chamber sits a gilded armchair that once belonged to George II's son Frederick - this is pretty much the closest thing to a throne that visitors will see. Upon visiting the privy chamber, guests will understand why this was one of Queen Caroline's favourite entertaining spots. The stunning ceiling was painted by William Kent in 1723, and there are also plenty of beautiful tapestries dotted around.

The Cupola room, meanwhile, is described as "the most splendidly decorated room in the palace," by its website, so is bound to be worth a visit.

However, it is the King's Drawing Room that is said to be the climax of all of the apartments. It was here that courtiers came to see the monarch, begging for power and patronage.

Visitors can also visit Queen Caroline's Closet and the Council Chamber, where they can learn about the sort of court dress that would once have been worn in the state rooms. Meanwhile, a visit to the King's Gallery allows people to see the room where William III played soldiers with his nephew and the King caught the chill that resulted in his death in 1702.

Kevin Smith

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