The King's Staircase

This grand entrance to the King's State Apartments is a must-see

This grand entrance to the King's State Apartments is a must-see


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Redesigning the King's Staircase

The walls of the King's Staircase were painted by William Kent as a vivid recreation of George I's court. The artwork depicts a lively 18th-century court full of intriguing and unexpected characters.

In Georgian times, visitors to court could only enter if their clothes and jewels passed muster with the guards.

Some of the guards in their red uniforms stand among the figures of the arcade painted on the walls, many of them identifiable as members of the royal court.

Kent completed the staircase paintings in 1724 and replaced rather more plain wooden panelling, which had been installed by Sir Christopher Wren.

Kent included a picture of himself in the painting. Look out for him on the ceiling with his mistress at his shoulder, wearing a brown turban and holding an artist's palette.

The colourful characters of George I's court

Along with the Yeomen of the Guard, Kent's painting includes the King's Polish page Ulric and the King's Turkish servants Mahomet and Mustapha. Peter 'the wild boy', a feral child found in the woods in Germany, also makes an appearance.

The imaginary architecture of the staircase painting was inspired by work that Kent had seen in the palaces of Rome where he trained.

The painted figure of Diana on the top landing is a copy of a real antique statue; the original is at Holkham Hall in Norfolk.

Detail of the King's Staircase at Kensington Palace showing members of King George I's court.
Wide view of the King's Grand Staircase at Kensington Palace

I love the King’s Staircase because while it is so grand, William Kent’s painting also shows another side of royal life.

Joanna Marschner, Kensington Palace Curator

Highlights Things to see

Wander through the lavish rooms of the King's State Apartments, each one grander than the last, at Kensington Palace.

Open daily

Kensington Palace

Highlights Things to see

Explore the beautiful private rooms at Kensington Palace that were once used by Queen Mary II for relaxation and sleep.

Open daily

Kensington Palace

The bright red walls and hanging art in the King's Gallery at Kensington Palace
Things to see

Explore the King's Gallery, which was transformed by William Kent to showcase the finest paintings of the Royal Collection.

Open daily

Kensington Palace

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