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Diana, 60 Years: Diana’s favourite home? Kensington Palace’s part in the life of a princess

As we continue to explore the many facets of Diana, Princess of Wales’s life, let’s take a look at her residence, Kensington Palace, and how it became entwined with her public image.

Kensington Palace has been an official residence of the British Royal Family dating back to the 17th century and has housed monarchs including Queen Victoria, as well as other famous royals including Princess Margaret. In 1981, it became the home of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Prince Charles and Diana moved in after their July 1981 wedding, moving into the newly-combined Apartments 8 & 9 at Kensington Palace. The three floors of space would be their London base, and, after their separation and divorce, it would remain Diana’s official residence until her death in 1997.

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The royals worked with famed interior designer Dudley Poplak to update the apartments without losing their historical aspects. Photos of the interiors of Diana’s rooms show that she favoured pastel colours, in shades pink, green and blue, as well as wallpaper and lush fabrics.

Poplak would also design the interiors at Highgrove House while the couple was married, and he called it the “most important assignment I have ever had.”

Photos taken of Diana at home and work showcase the design of the space. Her sitting room doubled as her office and featured dusty pink upholstery, a white carpet, white walls and white décor with floral wallpaper.

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A nursery suite for Prince William and Prince Harry took over the entire top floor of the apartment, and Diana personally worked with Dragons and Walton Street to design the space, which was largely neutral though featured pops of red, white and green colour.  

A yellow drawing room with nature painting was used to meet with people for official business.

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Her dining room boasted bright red curtains and a deep green table. The walls were painted beige and the décor was Eastern-inspired.

Diana filmed her controversial Panorama interview with Martin Bashir in her sitting room in 1995. The camera equipment had been smuggled into the Palace, and nobody on Diana’s team knew that she’d filmed an interview until after it was recorded.

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After her tragic death on 31 August 1997, Kensington Palace became the base for the public outpouring of grief. Flowers left outside the gates were sometimes five feet deep, and there were an estimated one million bouquets left at Diana’s former home.

Diana’s touch is still felt at Kensington Palace, though, with exhibitions focusing on her life and style routinely popping up in the summer months. There’s also the White Garden, which her sons opened in 2017. Diana famously loved the gardens at Kensington Palace, especially the Sunken Garden, and to mark the 20th anniversary of her death, it was replanted entirely with white flowers—Diana’s favourite.

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Diana’s apartments were left vacant for a decade after her death, but in 2007, they were separated again, with Prince Charles using Apartment 8 for his charities and Apartment 9 being used by the Chief of the Defence Staff.

William and Kate moved into Apartment 1A (formerly occupied by Princess Margaret) in 2013. They then took over the use of Apartment 8 to host receptions, meetings and other events, and to provide office space for their staff in 2016.

Today, Kensington Palace is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

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About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.