Friday, March 16, 2007

Day Two: Kensington Palace

Day Two was packed with exciting things! We started off with sunshine! On our way to Kensington Palace, we stopped to look at the Albert Memorial and admire the blue sky. We didn't expect to have sun all week, so the blue sky was precious. This memorial was unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1876 and is 180 feet tall.

When Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria was crushed. She remained in near-seclusion for 10 years. She mourned his death for the rest of her life.

The power of death to evoke incredibly strong reactions was also evident at Kensington Palace (KP). KP is where Diana was living at the time of her death. The courtyard shown below is where the flowers piled up after Diana's death. It is also the site where Prince William and Prince Harry greeted their mother's mourners. (You might remember this clip played over and over on TV.)

But I did not intend this post to be so morbid! Kensington Palace was a really fun place to visit! We saw the bedroom where Victoria first heard she had become Queen. We saw the apartments of Princess Margaret (the current Queen's sister), who lived there with here husband, Lord Snowden (the photographer).

Kensington Palace also has a very interesting tea connection! The large, brooding figure in the courtyard is William III, of the Dutch royal House of Orange. He is likely the reason the word "orange" is in the "orange pekoe" grade of tea. (Reminder: Orange Pekoe is not a flavor of tea. Rather, it refers to the size of the leaf.)

"The Dutch played a major role in bringing tea to the West, and the Dutch East India Company was the first large tea trading company in Europe, starting to ship tea to Europe in the early 1600's. In 1688, William of Orange, invited by English aristocrats, invaded England in a coup against James II and thus became William III of England, resulting in the merger of the English East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. It would sensibly follow that the name of the royal House of Orange was honorifically used to identify the higher quality tea." From Mugg's Buzz.

After touring Kensington Palace, I parted with some British Pounds in the lovely gift shop. The exchange rate was awful. Whenever I looked at a price tag, I doubled it for an approximate US equivalent. Nonetheless, I persevered and purchased several postcards from the Diana photo collection by Mario Testino, as well as a few Kensington Palace chocolate bars and a cute book on the etiquette of tea.

I joined the group for lunch at the Orangery. The light inside this building was incredible! A soft white-yellow. I had a bowl of chestnut-pesto soup, some delicious breads, and elderflower "fizzy" soda.
I've got much more to write about Day Two! This was just the start of a wonderful excursion, but it's enough for one post. More to come (the V-A, tea at the Lanesborogh and Harrods shopping!)


Nancy J. Reppert said...

Your photos and commentary regarding the recent trip to London are quite enjoyable. You are providing an excellent overview of this unbelievable vacation.... and I feel as if I am reliving each day. How special is that?
(AKA one of your gramma(s)).

Megan said...

Hi Stephanie,
As a tea lover and a teapot collecter, I really enjoy reading your blog! Your dear cousin Michelle turned me on to it. Your trip sounds so amazing, and I look forward to reading all about it.

Thanks, Megan (Troy's wife)