Decline and death at Kew
Exiled to Kew
Then once more fate intervened, as the King suffered two further acute outbreaks of the symptoms of porhphyria in 1801 and 1804. Each time the King was moved to Kew, away from the public eye.
The Castellated Palace remained an incomplete folly and was never used. Kew Palace, on the other hand, was now the only practicable home of any size left on the estate and was soon renovated in the latest fashion.
Here the King would visit with his sometime estranged Queen, accompanied by their unmarried daughters who were now young women, eager to leave home.
George III gradually declined into blindness and permanent ill health. His last visit took place in 1806 when he stopped off at the palace to dine.
Then, in 1818 two momentous events occurred. The Queen was taken seriously ill on the way to visit her beloved Windsor Castle and forced to stay at Kew; a day’s visit extended to several months.
During this time her middle-aged sons the Dukes of Clarence and Kent were married together to German princesses in their mother’s presence: the race for an heir that would eventually end with the birth of the future Queen Victoria.
The Queen died at Kew on 17 November 1818, lying in state in the Dining Room before eventually being laid to rest at Windsor.
From this time on the palace slept, largely ignored by the royal family. George IV considered its demolition, his brother William IV planned to double its size but these plans came to nothing.
At the end of her long reign Queen Victoria, George III’s granddaughter, opened the palace to the public in 1898. And Historic Royal Palaces reopened it in 2006 after major restoration.