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The Gloucesters

Kensington Palace’s 21-room apartment remains vacant a year after the Gloucesters moved out


Pete Maclaine / i-Images

Apartment 1 at Kensington Palace remains vacant a year after the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester moved out of the 21-room residence.

The apartment, which is adjoined to the Cambridge family’s living quarters, was occupied by the Gloucesters from 1972 until September 2019.

With only Richard and Birgitte living there, the couple decided to downsize, and moved to the Old Stables – a smaller residence still located within the Palace’s estate.

It was originally suspected that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex might move into the apartment, which connects to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s residence through an adjourning door.

However, it became clear after the wedding that Harry and Meghan preferred to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Kensington Palace life, so the property remains empty, with no new tenant being found.

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was the first royal to to be given use of the residence that later became known as Apartment 1 in 1985.

Prince Augustus Frederick, who was the sixth son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, was assigned the apartment by the King after he left his first wife from a marriage that was made in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

He later married Lady Cecilia Underwood, who become the Duchess of Inverness. She outlived Augustus and remained in the property until her death in 1873.

Apartment 1’s next occupant was Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, the sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

She moved in to the property not long 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.

As things stand, only her daughter, Princess Alexandra, doesn’t reside in the grounds of Kensington Palace.

Prince Edward, the present Duke of Kent, lives at Wren Cottage on Palace grounds, and Prince Michael lives with his wife in Apartment 10.

Apartment 1 spent four years vacant until 1972 when the then Prince and Princess Richard of Gloucester moved into the Palace.

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.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY GABRIEL AQUINO