'We are not iMused': smartphone technology turns Kensington’s Queen Victoria into a talking statue

'We are not iMused': smartphone technology turns Kensington’s Queen Victoria into a talking statue

Queen Victoria's statue with Kensington Palace in the background

23 September 2014

Kensington Palace’s iconic Queen Victoria statue brought to life by Historic Royal Palaces and actress Patricia Hodge. 

As the sun rose over Kensington on 20 June 1837, few would have guessed that dawn heralded a new era, which would begin within the very walls of the palace. At 6am, the young princess Victoria was woken by her mother in her bedroom at Kensington and told the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain were waiting to speak with her urgently. There, in her small sitting room in the State Apartments, she received news of the death of her ‘poor Uncle, the King’, and that consequently she was now Queen.

Now, as part of a project bringing statues to life right across the capital, visitors to Kensington Palace and Gardens will be able to uncover the story of that fateful morning for themselves, using their mobile phone or tablet. By simply scanning the QR code, tapping the NFC tag or typing the short URL on a plaque located at the base of Kensington Palace’s iconic statue of Queen Victoria, passersby will receive a right royal call from the Queen Empress herself! 

Talking Statues is a 2014 project by Sing London which animates 35 iconic statues in London and Manchester using the words and voices of well-known writers and actors. Launched on 23 September, the anniversary of the date in 1896 when Queen Victoria overtook her grandfather King George III to become Britain’s longest reigning monarch, the script for Kensington Palace’s Queen Victoria statue is a new commission written by playwright Katrina Hendrey, and voiced by acclaimed actress Patricia Hodge. The recording includes several sections taken from the Queen’s actual diaries and letters, and listeners will be able to enjoy Victoria’s musings on her creative daughter Louise (the statue’s sculptor), her earliest childhood memories of the palace, her first meeting with her beloved Albert on the stairs by her rooms, and her all-consuming grief following his untimely death in 1861. 

This project is one of the ways in which Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which cares for Kensington Palace, is using creative content and digital technologies to bring our palaces’ stories alive in new ways and in unexpected places. 

To discover more history where it happened, step inside! Kensington Palace is open to visitors seven days a week throughout the year. Current exhibitions include ‘Victoria Revealed’, an exploration of Queen Victoria’s long and fascinating life in her childhood home and ‘Fashion Rules’, a display of dresses worn by HM Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Notes for Editors

Listen to a version of the recording on our Soundcloud page

For more information please contact Adam Budhram in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: adam.budhram@hrp.org.uk or 020 3166 6307.

Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  

We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We receive no funding from the Government or the Crown, so we depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

We believe in four principles.  Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world.  Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work.

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