One of the (many) things I love about my job is the opportunity to meet people and see things that I could only otherwise dream of. This week I was treated to a sneak peek of the soon-to-be re-opened Kensington Palace.

This royal household has recently enjoyed a facelift. With £12 million to spend and 21 months of dedicated work, all implemented and overseen by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, the former home of Princess Margeret (and current digs of a certain Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) is looking rather snazzy.

The much anticipated Victoria Revealed exhibition gives a very personal insight into the life of the Queen. You are able to visit the rooms where she spent her childhoold, and have a nosey at some of her private possessions. A sketch she made of Prince Albert during her first year of marriage was quietly touching, as were the tiny black silk shoes she wore as a baby.

 

I particularly enjoyed wandering through the spruced-up State Apartments. These were at the epicentre of royal and politicial life in the 17th and 18th century, and the mist of intrigue stills hangs in the air. The rooms are both exquisitely maintained but also adapted to capture new interest. Red velvet window cushions whisper secrets to you when you sit on them, and children can have fun finding hidden cards with tips on prospering in a royal court.

 

There is also a small but stunning exhibition of Princess Diana's dresses. With her daughter-in-law now taking centre stage, this is a tasteful and beautiful reminder of the late Princess' style and elegance.

 

Crucially, there is a nice gift shop for those who, like me, can't return from a day out without a little trinket or shiny new pencil sharpener.

Kensington Palace re-opens on 26th March 2012. For more information, visit www.hrp.org.uk

Words by Fiona Hicks.