Betty on the Scene: The Enchanted Palace
One Betty editor explores a magical exhibit at Kensington Palace.
-Kathryn H. Cusimano
Kensington Palace and the surrounding gardens.
As you may have heard, I’ve been working from foggy London town for a couple of weeks. While much of my visit has been spent clicking away on my laptop, I did find a bit of time to sneak away and check out an exhibit I’ve been dying to see: The Enchanted Palace.
The Enchanted Palace is a truly unique exhibit. It opened several months ago at Kensington Palace, home to beloved royals from Queen Victoria to Princess Diana. The exhibit combines theater, fashion and history to create a unique, exquisite experience. Performance group WILDWORKS teamed up with designers like Vivienne Westwood and milliner Stephen Jones to bring the stories of some of the palace’s most famous residents to life. I must mention here that photographs were not allowed throughout the bulk of the palace, so unfortunately, I was unable to snap most of the exhibit.
Stepping into a royal palace is in itself an exciting experience for any American, since the concept of royal families is just so foreign to us. I think it’s safe to assume most Americans are glad to be free of monarchy, but this just makes princesses and palaces more romantic. The Enchanted Palace takes that romanticism to a whole new level. Pass through the doors of Kensington Palace and you are immediately transported to a fairy tale world – it’s almost as if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole with Alice.
Upon entry, I received a small book containing a map and the stories of the many rooms on the enchanted route. The path leads visitors through softly lit rooms containing poems about princesses who once occupied the palace. One of my favorite rooms is the first bedroom, called the Room of Royal Sorrows. A female form hovers in the air as though she froze while falling dramatically into bed. The mannequin represents Queen Mary II, who reigned with her husband William of Orange from 1689 until her death in 1694. Her pregnancies ended in miscarriage or stillbirth, and thus Mary produced no heirs. The room’s ethereal silver-blue glow brings that tragedy to life, enhanced by Aminaka Wilmont’s “Dress of Tears,” which wraps around the mannequin and is draped across the room. It was impossible not to share Mary’s grief in this room.