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Kate Middleton and Prince William's London mansion's unexpected former residents

Kensington Palace gardens were home to exotic animals

kate william kensington© Photo: Getty Images
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
July 13, 2021
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis are some of the many residents at Kensington Palace. 

SEE: Kate Middleton and Prince William's London home is another level

The family live in Apartment 1A, while William's mother Princess Diana and father Prince Charles used to occupy Apartment 8, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent live in Wren House.

But the stunning royal residence was actually home to a menagerie of animals when King George I lived at the property in the early 1720s  – in particular, tigers, turtles and snails. 

WATCH: Princess Diana's Kensington Palace garden gets stunning makeover

Kensington Palace gardens had long been frequented by roaming deer, but the King also kept tigers in an iron den, civet cats in wooden cages and had a small pool for tortoises or turtles. Meanwhile, it is said he even had a snailery constructed in the grounds.

READ: Who lived in Prince William and Kate Middleton's country home before them?

MORE: Private royal gardens revealed: Prince William, Kate Middleton, more

Now, Kensington Palace grounds feature the Sunken Garden, which is recognised as where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle posed for their engagement photocall. 

kensington palace

Kensington Palace was previously home to King George I and his animals

More recently, Prince Harry and Prince William recently came together to unveil a statue of their late mother Princess Diana in the Sunken Garden on what would have been her 60th birthday.

The garden surrounding the statue underwent a makeover that took 1,000 hours of planting and includes over 4,000 buds including 300 tulips, 200 roses and 100 Forget-me-nots, which were Diana's favourite flowers.

The new layout was masterminded by Pip Morrison and it was beautifully executed by the Gardens and Estates team at Historic Royal Palaces, namely led by Deputy Head of Gardens and Estates, Graham Dillamore.

sunken garden lawn pond© Kensington Palace

The Sunken Garden has been redesigned

Graham reminisced about when he interacted with Diana during her time there. "While she was in residence at Kensington Palace, Diana, Princess of Wales regularly admired the changing floral displays in the Sunken Garden and would always stop to talk with me and the other gardeners who cared for it.

"We've incorporated a number of the Princess's favourite flowers into the design, and I hope that visitors to the palace and gardens will enjoy its peaceful setting, and take a moment to reflect on the life and legacy of the Princess," he said.

SEE: Prince William and Kate Middleton's jaw-dropping country mansion gifted by the Queen – photos

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