A royal seal of approval
Each king or queen literally set their stamp on their palaces either with their coat of arms, or, in later times, with their monogram. William and Mary’s intertwined ‘W’ and ‘M’ appear in the elaborate doorhood over the Queen’s entrance to Kensington Palace; an ‘E’ for Elizabeth appears in the part of Hampton Court Palace overlooking the knot garden that she rebuilt. Some made major changes to palace buildings.
Transforming Kensington palace
In the early 19th century, the ground floor of Kensington Palace was transformed for the Duke of Kent, and the columns in his saloon supported the sagging floor of the Cupola Room above. In 1812 the Duke had to flee to the continent to avoid his creditors. The rooms at Kensington with a Victorian atmosphere include those re-arranged in the early 20th century by Queen Mary.
Throughout the history of the palaces, the monarch’s consort has always needed a suite for her (or, occasionally, his) own use: Queens Mary I, Elizabeth I and Anne used the king’s own lodgings, and Anne’s husband George of Denmark used what had formerly been the Queen’s Apartments at Kensington Palace. Queen Charlotte used her cottage orné in Kew Gardens for faux-rural retirement. A marriage or the birth of an heir, then, often marked the construction of a new range in a palace: Henry VIII built new suites at Hampton Court Palace for Anne Boleyn, and then for Jane Seymour. The apartment fitted out for Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1727 ended up as the home of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the twentieth century.