On this day, 15th May 1899, Queen Victoria returned to Kensington Palace nine days before it opened to the public for the first time.
To celebrate the Queen’s 80th birthday, on 24th May 1899, Kensington Palace opened its doors to the public for the first time. Victoria had always been interested in preserving her own history for future generations and it’s clear that the public were just as enthusiastic as she was. On the first day alone, 13,000 visitors attended the Palace to see Queen Victoria’s childhood rooms.
In her journal on 15th May, she wrote:
“After a very wet night, it became fine — Georgie & May came to wish me goodbye, whilst we were at breakfast. — Left Windsor for London at ½ p. 11. Drove with Beatrice, Ducky & Ernie, direct from Paddington to Kensington Palace, where we got at my old entrance. I was carried up the state staircase & went through a number of rooms I had never seen before, including some very fine ones in what is called the Denmark Wing, where Pce George of Denmark lived. These rooms have been restored & put into good order. Pictures of my life & reign have been hung also some good ones from Hampton Court. The rooms are to the thrown open to the public, as it is thought they would be of great interest but on the condition that they may be taken back at any time for the use of my family. I also went down to the lower floor, into the two large rooms, in the first of which I held First Council, & then also into the one in which I was born. This use to be used as Mama’s writing room & then as a visitor’s room. Mr Brett met us at Kensington, & explained everything. He has the merit of the whole arrangement. — Saw Lord Salisbury after luncheon. — Drove Salisbury after luncheon. — Drove with Ducky & Jane C. through the Horse Guards by Embankment & twice round Hyde Park. — Saw Arthur & Louischen when I came home. — Georgie, Albert Mensdorff, Louisa Buccleuch, Jane C. & Sir F. Edwards, dined with us. After dinner, Ducky went to see her Father, who has just arrived.—”