Queen Elizabeth II looks over gifts exchanged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in a display which forms part of the Victoria Revealed exhibition at Kensington Palace.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited palace last week to officially reopen the building following a £12 million, two year renovation project aimed at “transforming the visitor experience”.

The works have involved restoring the palace gardens – which will now be permanently open to the public free-of-charge – and reconnecting the palace with the surrounding parklands of Kensington Gardens partly through the provision of a new entrance. Landscape designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan’s plan – which centres on a statue of Queen Victoria – features new lawns and avenues and a “maze-like path” inspired by 18th century “wilderness walks”.

There is also a new visitor reception area and “orientation hub” as well as a new courtyard terrace and cafe to complement The Orangery, shop and learning centre.

Victoria Revealed, a new permanent exhibition at the palace looks in intimate detail at the life of the Queen who once lived here and features everything from her black silk baby shoes to her wedding dress and the mourning clothing she wore following the death of Prince Albert as well as archive film footage showing the celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of her reign in 1897.

The palace reopens on 26th March.

WHERE: The Broad Walk, Kensington Gardens, Kensington (nearest Tube stations are High Street Kensington or Queensway); WHEN: Daily 10am to 6pm (until 31st October); COST: £14.50 adult/£12 concession/children under 16 free (online booking discounts available, Historic Royal Palaces members free); WEBSITE: www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace.

PICTURES: Courtesy of Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk

The countdown to the March re-opening of Kensington Palace and accompanying launch of the major new exhibition, Victoria Revealed, has begun and to celebrate Historic Royal Palaces is releasing a new animated film about the “era defining” romance between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Released in five short daily episodes starting today, the film, Victoria 4 Albert, portrays the story of the couple from their same day births to their wedding ceremony and draws on excerpts from Queen Victoria’s personal diaries and Albert’s letters. The film, which also includes key moments from Victoria’s life at Kensington Palace, have been created and directed by acclaimed filmmaker and animator Chiara Ambrosio and features a voiceover by Julia Rayner (of The Pianist, Extras). The palace reopens on 26th March following a £12 million refurbishment project. In the meantime, head here to see the first of the clips…