As we ring in 2018 and the royal wedding draws nearer, it seems many can’t get enough of Prince Harry and his bride-to-be, Meghan Markle. In addition to busily planning their May 19 wedding, the couple is making arrangements for their new home. The two will live in Nottingham Cottage, located on the grounds of London’s Kensington Palace. The two-bedroom house has already been the prince’s bachelor pad for several years. Prior to that, it was home to Prince William and Kate Middleton for more than two years.
Next to Nottingham Cottage is the palace, which is home to a large handful of other royal family members. The property has been owned by the royal family for more than three centuries. Here we’ll take a look at the historic and fascinating Kensington Palace, by the numbers.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new home
- Nottingham Cottage has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, two reception rooms, and a small garden.
Nicknamed “Nott Cott,” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s two-bedroom, one-bathroom home has ceilings so low, Prince William reportedly needed to stoop to avoid hitting his head. The cozy cottage is conveniently located near Kensington High Street and its trendy shops, boutiques, and spas. It was in this home that Prince Harry famously proposed to Markle while they were roasting a chicken. When Prince Harry first moved there in 2013, it was said he installed a hammock in the yard.
Next: Here’s how much the royal family paid for the estate.
Kensington Palace was established in 1689
- Purchase price: $24,500
The land where Kensington Palace now sits originally held a two-story mansion built in 1605 called Nottingham House. In 1689, King William III and Queen Mary purchased the estate for the equivalent of $24,500. The royal couple chose the country property because it was situated further from the River Thames, which they said had agitated the king’s asthma. They asked Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to turn it into a palace. It was used as the king and queen’s country retreat.
Next: An unwritten rule says some royals don’t live at Kensington.
Kings and queens don’t live at Kensington Palace
- A reigning monarch hasn’t lived there in over 250 years.
The last ruling king who lived primarily at Kensington Palace was King George II, who died in 1760. Over the years, however, it has become a fashionable home to younger members of the royal family. In addition to Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton, royal residents of Kensington Palace have included Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, and Princess Diana’s sister Lady Jane Fellowes and her husband Sir Robert Fellowes.
Next: When the palace was engulfed in a sea of flowers
Diana’s death was mourned there
- More than 1 million bouquets were left at Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace was home of Princess Diana after she and Prince William divorced. After hearing the news of Diana’s death on Aug. 31, 1997, mourners showed up at the castle gates in droves, leaving a sea of flowers, candles, and other items. Diana’s apartment at Kensington Palace sat empty for 10 years after her untimely death, and no one has lived there since then. (Prince William and Kate Middleton currently use the apartment as a work space.)
Next: The price of weddings at Kensington Palace
Weddings at Kensington Palace
- Price: $15,800-$23,100
Today, spaces nestled in Kensington Palace’s gardens can be rented by the public for weddings and other events. The main such venue is the Orangery, which was built in 1704 as a greenhouse for Queen Anne’s collection of exotic plants and orange trees. It now serves as a tea restaurant which closes occasionally for weddings. It can accommodate up to 150 guests for a ceremony and 300 for a reception.
Daytime weddings at the Orangery start at $23,100. Included is a wedding planner, taxi service, cleaning service, on-site security, and a private guest entrance. Evening weddings start at $15,800. Celebrities who have wed at the Orangery include Nikki Hilton in 2015.
Next: How to tour the palace
Touring Kensington Palace
- Cost of admission to the castle: $21
- Cost to visit the gardens: Free
Other than getting married at Kensington Palace, you can purchase a ticket to visit the castle. This grants you access to kings’ and queens’ apartments and some rooms used by Queen Victoria. Currently, ticketholders can also view an exhibit featuring famous outfits worn by Princess Diana. Tourists can walk through Kensington Palace’s historic gardens for free and see the place where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle posed for photographers shortly after announcing their engagement. Visitors can also have high tea at the Orangery, adjacent to the gardens.
Next: But watch out for royal ghosts.
Is Kensington Palace haunted?
- More than six ghosts are said to roam the royal residence.
Hopefully Harry and Meghan aren’t spooked easily, because tales of mysterious sightings at Kensington Palace are aplenty. In fact, another tourist attraction at Kensington Palace is a ghost tour. For these lamplit tours, visitors follow guides through staircases and passageways while hearing tales of ghostly encounters with long-dead monarchs.
One of the rumored royal phantoms is King George II, who passed away in 1760. His last words in life, “Why don’t they come?” are said to have been heard echoing around the palace over the many years since his death. His granddaughter, Princess Sophia, lived a lonely life and found solace in her spinning wheel until she eventually went blind. To this day, ghostly spinning wheel sounds are reportedly heard throughout the palace.
Next: When the palace was falling apart
Kensington Palace was almost bulldozed
- It was in disrepair but was renovated in the 1890s.
By the end of the 1800s, the palace’s State Rooms were in a state of neglect. Brickwork was decaying, and woodwork was infested with dry rot. As such, some people called for the palace to be demolished. However, Queen Victoria adamantly opposed any such measures, saying that while she lived, the palace where she was born would not be destroyed. In 1897, Parliament agreed to pay for the restoration, which took place over the next two years. In May 1999, the palace became open to the public for the first time.
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