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The Enchanted Palace

on November 6, 2011 – 3:39 am

Kensington Palace as you have never seen it before…

Kensington Palace becomes the Enchanted Palace in a unique multi-sensory exhibition combining fashion, performance, and dazzling spectacle to reveal Kensington’s magnificent State Apartments in a magical new light.

Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces is undertaking a £12 million major project to transform Kensington Palace by 2012. During this transition, acclaimed UK theatre company WILDWORKS casts a spell over the palace, creating a mysterious and atmospheric world for visitors to explore, and bringing the hidden stories of the historic royal residence dramatically to life.

A Historic Royal Palaces conservator adjusts Vivienne Westwood's creation for the Enchanted Palace, new exhibition at Kensington Palace.

In the sumptuous State Apartments, leading fashion designers Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest, Stephen Jones, Boudicca, Aminaka Wilmont and illustrator/set designer Echo Morgan each created spectacular installations in collaboration with WILDWORKS, taking inspiration from Kensington Palace and the princesses who once lived there – Mary, Anne, Caroline, Charlotte, Victoria, Margaret and Diana. These extraordinary contemporary designs are displayed alongside historic items from the Royal Collection and Kensington Palace’s Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, together with two dresses worn by Diana, Princess of Wales and Princess Margaret.

A Historic Royal Palaces conservator prepares a dress belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales, for display in the Enchanted Palace exhibition at Kensington Palace.

The complex and mysterious world of the royal court is opened up through spectacular installations, interactive theatre, intimate storytelling, soundscapes, haunting film projections, and a series of intriguing clues hidden throughout the historic rooms, revealing tales of love and hate, surprise and sadness, secrets and jealousy.

Each room has a powerful story to tell about Kensington Palace’s former royal residents and the life of the court – a world within a world, with its own time and rituals.

A curator at Kensington Palace holds the silk and gilt cone of rice confetti, with the initials VE adorning the side, thought to have belonged to a bridesmaid of Queen Victoria Eugenia (known as Queen Ena) and carried at the wedding in 1905. Historic Royal Palaces Curator Alexandra Kim commented, “This is an innovative animated exhibition, set against the backdrop of the magnificent State Apartments, and offers a truly unique opportunity to discover the hidden stories of Kensington Palace. Featuring specially commissioned contemporary fashion installations woven into fascinating tales from the palaces history, The Enchanted Palace will enable visitors to explore the extraordinary lives of Kensington’s former royal residents.”

WILDWORKS Producer Bill Mitchell said, “We have found the stories of the palace incredibly inspiring, they’re like true fairy tales – the rebellious princess who was so universally loved that, when she died in childbirth, London ran out of black mourning fabric; the little sickly prince who played peashooters with his uncle, the king; the court that kept a wild feral boy as a pet; the young princess who wept for three days when told she had to marry a man twice her age; the two friends who had a quarrel that caused deaths, changed the fortunes of great families and the map of Europe. Its such rich material for art and theatre – to be exploring these stories in the rooms where they took place is thrilling.”

The Enchanted Palace is inspired by the £12 million major project that will transform the visitor experience at Kensington Palace by improving accessibility, introducing new education and community facilities, reconnecting the palace with the surrounding park through new public gardens, and enabling us to present exciting exhibitions inspired by the palaces rich past and unique collections. This project, Welcome to Kensington a palace for everyone, will be completed by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces in June 2012, in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.

Closes 3 January 2012.

For more information, visit The Enchanted Palace web site.

Curators at Kensington Palace inspect the fine linen chemise and split drawers which were worn by Queen Victoria at the end of the 19th century.

IMAGES:
1. Enchanted Palace combines fashion, performance, and dazzling spectacle, inspired by the stories of the palace s former royal residents, to reveal Kensington s magnificent State Apartments in a magical new light. The exhibition runs from 26 March 2010 until January 2012. [Historic Royal Palaces / newsteam.co.uk]

2. A Historic Royal Palaces conservator adjusts Vivienne Westwood’s creation for the Enchanted Palace, new exhibition at Kensington Palace. [Richard Lea-Hair / newsteam.co.uk]

3. A Historic Royal Palaces conservator prepares a dress belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales, for display in the Enchanted Palace exhibition at Kensington Palace. [Pic by Richard Lea -Hair / HRP newsteam.co.uk]

4. A curator at Kensington Palace holds the silk and gilt cone of rice confetti, with the initials VE adorning the side, thought to have belonged to a bridesmaid of Queen Victoria Eugenia (known as Queen Ena) and carried at the wedding in 1905. The confetti is still inside as tragedy struck the wedding procession when an anarchist threw a bomb at the royal carriage and an outrider riding alongside the new bride and groom was killed. [Pic Richard Lea-Hair / NTI / HRP]

5. A curator at Kensington Palace holds the coronet worn by Princess Patricia to her uncle King Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 and a fine example of the type used between 1662 and 1917 for the sons and daughters of sons of the Sovereign. This is one of the 12,000 items worn by royalty and courtiers from the seventeenth century to the present day which form the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, cared for by Historic Royal Palaces at Kensington Palace, London. [Pic Richard Lea-Hair / NTI / HRP]

6. Curators at Kensington Palace inspect the fine linen chemise and split drawers which were worn by Queen Victoria at the end of the 19th century. Both are embroidered with a crown, VR and a number so they could be kept track of when sent to the laundry. These are some of the 12,000 items worn by royalty and courtiers from the seventeenth century to the present day which form the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, cared for by Historic Royal Palaces at Kensington Palace, London, which has recently been designated as a pre-eminent collection of national and international importance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. [Pic Richard Lea-Hair / NTI / HRP]