Day four: Palaces

Happy Fourth of July Independence Day to everyone! It's been quite strange over here. While my group hasn't done anything terribly outrageous, we did see some fun things today. We caught a group of Americans singing (in a beautiful a Capella harmony) the Star Spangled Banner right outside Buckingham Palace after the changing the guard. Gutsy and earned much applause.

The changing of the guard was fun to watch, though we missed the beginning due to a late start. We knew we were in the right place when we could hear the drumming, then the music, of the band (see them in red to the right). The ceremonial aspect of the pageantry is impossible to portray in pictures, but it was impressive. When the guards began to move you could see the entire crowd take off after them. Talk about a mob!

We followed at a distance and watched the guard march toward Buckingham Palace. All in all, this even took over an hour.

After that, we decided to head toward Kensington Palace. My young classmate told us it was "within walking distance," once again emphasizing the gap between 20 and 40 and the mentality we have at these different ages. That said, I'm glad we walk through some of it. We walked by St George's Hospital and then through Hyde Park. I have never seen a park so huge in all my life! This park was beautifully kept and filled with families just enjoying the day. And swans. And mallards. Tons and TONS of swans, mallards, and pigeons. These birds are no joke, let me tell you. The swans are almost as tall as my eight year old son!

We saw the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and her Memorial Walk. There's a legend that says that she used to sneak out of Kensington Palace occasionally through these little manholes in the park. After her death in 1997, these covers were changed to gold and turned into a memorial walk in her honor.

Queen Victoria Outside Kensington
 After a quick lunch at the shop in the park, we finally reached Kensington Castle. King George II and Queen Caroline lived here. Queen Victoria grew up here until Buckingham was built. Princess Diana lived here from the day she married Charles until she died. There are pictures of Diana and William & Kate everywhere.

Scott, Courtney and I went through the first floor and then the top floor, which is the King 's personal apartments. Amazing! The first floor has a memorial wall to Diana that includes many various painted scenes of her--dressed to the nines, with the boys, alone and more. The kings apartments are quite impressive, too. You could hold a ball in just one of the rooms in his apartments, never mind the others--sitting room, privy room, Caroline's closet and more.

 Two of the rooms include examples of dresses and suits the royals wore. This one belonged to Princess Amelia, reminiscent of those very wide gowns that court women wore. They had a display that showed the hip holster the women had to wear to make their dresses sprawl like that. Never been so thankful to be common if you know what I mean.

All in all, it was a good day, if quite a bit longer than I intended. Tomorrow we go to Oxford for the day and need an early start, so Cheerio!


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