The King's State Apartments

Explore these sumptuous rooms, each grander than the last.

Explore these sumptuous rooms, each grander than the last.

When

  • Open daily

Ticketing information

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The first thing you will notice about these opulent rooms is that they are surprisingly sparse. This is because, unlike domestic rooms, the State Apartments were used for audiences and meetings.

Courtiers and visitors stood in the presence of royalty, so there was no need for the sorts of furniture you normally find in a home.

However, these rooms contain many sculptures and works of art, such as the terracotta busts of George II and his wife Queen Caroline, made by Michael Rysbrack in 1738 and 1739.

The King's Staircase

The King's Staircase is the first link to the circuit of rooms making up the King's State Apartments.

All the great and good of Georgian London would have climbed these stairs to visit the King.

The Presence Chamber

The monarch received courtiers, ministers and foreign ambassadors here in The Presence Chamber. The fireplace is surrounded by limewood carvings by Grinling Gibbons, including cherubs that were originally painted white.

Take a photo on the spot where a magnificent throne canopy would once have been located.

The Privy Chamber

The Privy Chamber was one of Queen Caroline's favourite entertaining spaces.

See the magnificent ceiling painted by William Kent in 1723, as well as some impressive tapestries made in the Mortlake Tapestry workshop founded by King Charles I.

The Cupola Room

The Cupola Room is the most splendidly decorated room in the palace.

It was the first royal commission of William Kent, the artist and designer who would go on to decorate the rest of the State Apartments and create a distinctive visual style for the Georgian age.

The King's Drawing Room

Courtiers would have come to the King's Drawing Room in search of power and patronage. It is the climax of the whole suite of rooms. 

The highlight of this room is the painting of Venus and Cupid by Vasari. Queen Caroline tried to have the painting moved while her husband was away in Hanover. When the King returned he furiously insisted it be put back. It still hangs there today.

The King's Gallery

William III played soldiers with his little nephew in the King's Gallery and it was here that he caught the chill that led to his death in 1702.

The Clock in the Cupola Room

At the centre of the elaborate Cupola Room at Kensington Palace stands an eighteenth century musical clock, the 'Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World'.

Clockmaker Charles Clay worked on this magnificent clock for 20 years of his life and spent over £2,000 on it. It was unfinished when he died, and in his will, he instructed it to be 'beat to pieces' to save any more time or money spent on it. His wife did not comply and the clock was acquired by Princess Augusta in around 1743, and placed in this room soon after.

The clock is now part of the Royal Collection Trust © HM Queen Elizabeth II.

A History of Royal Fashion

Free online course

Want to take a peek into the wardrobes of the kings and queens of the past?

With exclusive access to the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, this free online course from Historic Royal Palaces & the University of Glasgow explores clothing from the Tudors to the Windsors.

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The staircase was painted by William Kent and completed in 1724. The walls depicts an elaborate arcaded gallery with figures behind a balustrade. Many are identifiable as members of King George I's court. The wrought iron balustrade is by Jean Tijou
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