London’s Historic Royal Palaces have long held behind their doors an interesting blend of refinement and raucousness. And now groups can step into the thick of it all with immersive, behind the scenes tours of Kensington Palace, Hampton Court and Kew Palace.
Beginning on April 17, three Glorious Georges exhibitions themed to the Georgian era will unfold throughout the beloved palaces to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Georgian dynasty. Each will focus on a different aspect of the family—from the private quarters of King George I to tours of Kensington Palace’s lavish State Apartments, where King George II and Queen Caroline once entertained guests. The upbringing and “madness” of King George III is explored at Kew Palace, a former country retreat to the family. If it all sounds a little too stiff around the collar, don’t fret. Groups will get a chance to stand those collars straight up at palace garden parties offering food, costumes, music and games from the Georgian era.
Enter the palace where Queen Victoria’s life unfolds like a living time capsule room after room. The 19th century queen was born in Kensington Palace and groups can stand in the rooms where she was christened and first learned she would become queen. The Queen’s and King’s Apartments are strewn with family portraits, original furnishings, and paintings and art from the Royal Collection. Some of the royals’ most iconic fashion trends—from Queen Elizabeth II to Princess Diana—are on display in the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. Glorious Georges will hunker down in the King’s State Apartments, completely reimagined to reflect the court of King George II. The Kensington Palace garden party is slated for June 14-15.
Over 500 years of history emerges from the red bricks and mortar of Hampton Court, the oldest surviving Tudor palace in England. Distinct Tudor and Baroque architecture reflect the life and times of kings Henry VIII and William III. Groups can explore the oldest surviving hedge maze, once a place for secrecy and seduction. Indoors, Andreas Mantegna’s nine painting sequence, ‘Triumphs of Caesar,’ arguably one of the most important works of the Italian Renaissance, is a must see. Glorious Georges displays will be shown throughout the Baroque half of the palace—including the Queen’s State and Private Apartments—once occupied by the Georgian court. The Hampton Court garden party takes place July 26-27.
This 17th century retreat was the preferred getaway for numerous royals and the birthplace of King George IV. The four-story building is perched above the Thames River, but the main attraction is Kew Gardens, a World Heritage Site sprawling over 300 acres of land with over 40,000 rare and beautiful plant species to marvel over. Here, groups can explore the research and conservation efforts that have helped to secure one in eight of the world’s plant species. Interactive displays and seasonal events are always underway—Glorious Georges zooms in on the early life of King George III. Kew Palace’s garden party kicks off August 16th.