PHOTO: COLIN SMITH [CC BY-SA 2.0 VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS]
As people speculate on the future marital home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, today we take a look at former royal residents of a much-discussed possible residence, Apartment 1 at Kensington Palace.
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex was the first to be given the use of the Palace’s corner that later became known as Apartment 1. Prince Augustus Frederick was the sixth son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, and in 1805, the King assigned the apartment to Prince Augustus Frederick after he left his first wife from a marriage that was made in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
The Duke of Sussex was Queen Victoria’s favourite uncle, and she chose him to take her up the aisle on her wedding day. She also honoured him with appointments such as Governor of Windsor Castle and Grand Master of the Order of Bath. The Duke, however, proved he could cause a scandal when in 1831 he entered into another marriage in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, this time with Lady Cecilia Underwood, who lived together with him at Kensington Palace. Queen Victoria is said to have been so fond of her uncle that, to solve the problem with the precedence of Lady Cecilia as she could not share of her husband’s royal titles, created his wife the Duchess of Inverness, an appropriate title given that one of his subsidiary titles was Earl of Inverness.
Prince Augustus Frederick was greatly interested in the arts and science and kept an enormous library in his Kensington home; it was said to have contained over 50,000 books. The Duke of Sussex and the Duchess of Inverness continued to reside at Kensington Palace until their deaths, both at the Palace, in 1843 and 1873, respectively.
Apartment 1’s next occupant was Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. The Princess was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s sixth child, and she moved into the apartment soon after the death of the Duchess of Inverness, with her husband, then Lord Lorne.
However, in 1878, her husband was appointed by the British Prime Minister to serve as Governor General of Canada, and Princess Louise followed her husband as they took up residence in Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Princess Louise returned to Britain in 1883, when her husband’s term as Governor General ended.
Under Princess Louise, Apartment 1 was again the centre of attention when she used her art studio in the Palace to design and sculpt the iconic statue of Queen Victoria that now can be found in Kensington Gardens.
Princess Louise kept her apartment in Kensington Palace throughout her entire life, but it only became her primary residence when she became a widow in 1914. She died in the Palace in 1939, at the incredible age of 91.
From 1939 until 1955, the apartment remained vacant, and it was during that time that it was divided into two, creating Apartment 1A that is now residence to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.
In 1955 the apartment was given to the widowed Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent to serve as the official London residence to herself and her children. Princess Marina, born a Princess of Greece and Denmark, was the widow of Prince George, Duke of Kent. He was King George V and Queen Mary’s fourth son who accidentally died in a military aeroplane crash during World War Two, six weeks after the birth of their youngest child, Prince Michael, in 1942.
Princess Marina was a very popular member of the Royal Family during her life, and she was most known for her role as President of All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a position that she inherited from her husband and that passed to her eldest child on her death.
In 1968, it was discovered that Princess Marina was suffering from an inoperable brain tumour, and she died a few weeks later in her apartment at Kensington Palace.
Currently, only her daughter, Princess Alexandra, doesn’t live in the Palace. Prince Edward, the present Duke of Kent, lives with his wife at Wren Cottage on Palace grounds, and Prince Michael lives with his wife in Apartment 10.
The apartment spent four years vacant until 1972 when the then Prince and Princess Richard of Gloucester moved into the Palace. Prince Richard is the second son of the late Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester – the third son of King George V and Queen Mary – and Lady Alice Montagu Douglas Scott.
The couple, who are now the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, wasn’t destined to a life of royal duties, but after the sudden death of the Duke’s older brother, they became first-in-line to the Dukedom of Gloucester.
They have now quietly performed royals duties for over 40 years, working alongside over 200 charities and being present for most state occasions.
In 1995, the Duke’s mother, Princess Alice, moved out of the family home she had shared with husband due to financial struggles and joined her son’s family at the Palace, and that’s where she died in 2004.
Currently, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester live alone in the 21-room apartment, and many wonder whether they would like to downsize and allow for Prince Harry and his soon-to-be wife, who are said to be keen to start a family, to move into the apartment.