A Rarely Seen Look at How Princess Diana Decorated Her Private Palace Quarters
Diana was famous for her fashion choices, but her taste in home decor is a little less well-known. When she first moved into Apartments 8 and 9 at Kensington Palace as a new bride, she was just 20 years old and she had three floors of rooms to decorate in the style of her choosing. However, the revamp had to suit the 17th century building as well as blend with the priceless antiques and oil paintings already displayed in the rooms. Diana turned to her mother for help, and she recommended her interior designer, Dudley Poplak, who worked with Diana to create a suite of rooms that combined traditional royal gravitas with Diana's fresh, fun, and feminine style. Take an up close look ahead.
The Drawing Room: Citrus Hues
When Charles and Diana were interviewed by veteran broadcaster Sir Alistair Burnett, it gave us the chance to have a peek inside the room where the couple did the majority of their entertaining. There, the pale lemon walls were accented with sofas and armchairs in soft sherbet shades of orange, yellow, and green and loaded with tonal cushions. One wall was hung with a large Flemish tapestry, which complemented a wall-to-wall light-colored rug with a botanical pattern.
The Drawing Room: Family Photos
Pride of place in the drawing room was a grand Steinway piano, which the princess could play. It was covered in family photographs in classic simple frames of the couple with their young sons William and Harry, Diana with her siblings and mother, and of Charles's beloved grandmother, the queen mother. The room was lit mainly by a number of lamps. As a rule, the royal family are not big fans of harsh overhead lighting but prefer the softer effect of wall-mounted lights and table lamps.
The Drawing Room: Distinguished Drapes
A few other room details can be picked out from the time Diana invited her favorite designer, Catherine Walker, and her team to the palace. Although we can't see much, we can get a feel of the room size and take a look at the tonal orange drapes. There's also a glimpse of some royal glitz thanks to the gilt mirror on the wall.
The Drawing Room: Fine Details
A key feature of the room was an impressive marble fireplace, and along with numerous side tables and dressers, it was filled with expensive knickknacks that included framed photos, ashtrays, lamps, bowls, ceramic figures, and trinket boxes. Charles and Diana would have had their pick of these items from the royal collection, and others could have been gifts they received on overseas tours.
The Nursery: Miniature Luxury
The Kensington Palace nursery was actually a suite of rooms over the entire top floor and included bedrooms for William, Harry, their nannies, and protection officers; bathrooms; a playroom; and a kitchen. It was designed by the luxury children's design company Dragons of Walton Street and featured a strawberry-print carpet and miniature furniture.
The Nursery: Toys For 2
William and Harry's playroom was fresh and light with little pops of color — the fresh green wall accents and pink armchair picked out the tones of the strawberries on the carpet. Diana shopped for the children in the ultraluxurious Harrods department store, and the room was filled with stuffed animals and toys, including a pair of painted wooden rocking horses.
The Sitting Room: Watercolor Palette
The pink, white, and duck-egg blue patterned wallpaper was actually made of fabric, and even when Diana freshened up the property's decor after her separation, she kept the expensive wall covering in what was said to have been her favorite room in the palace. The watercolor decor included dusky blue drapes, smoky pink sofas, and armchairs with mix-and-match scatter cushions, cream lamps, and fresh flowers. Diana's chef, Darren McGrady, has said he used to leave bowls of her favorite lychees in this room when the fruit was in season.
The Sitting Room: Touches of Ballet
A visit from Diana's wedding dress designers, the Emmanuels, provides a wider shot of the room. We get a glimpse of the older, more formal elements such as the marble fireplace and oil paintings, harmonized with the fresh pretty color scheme. Many of the walls were covered in white bookcases displaying china plates and ballet dancer figurines. Later, when the property was hers alone, Diana put up pictures of ballerinas on the walls and hung satin ballet slippers from the back of the door. There was also a television set hidden in one of the cabinets.
The Sitting Room: Diana's Workspace
Diana had her desk set up in a corner of the sitting room. It was laid out with a combination of old-school business exec fare including a leather desk pad, bottled ink and stamping set, and personal knickknacks including framed pictures of William and Harry, several clocks, and a figurine of Christ, draped with a rosary. We're loving the personalized wooden box on the windowsill — a memento from her boarding school days?
The Dining Room: Asian Accents
In a change from the soothing palettes of her two main living spaces, when it came to the dining room, Diana opted for a bolder, more dramatic vibe. The Asian design called for gilt frames, dark lacquered wooden dressers, an ornate bamboo dining table and chairs, and a specially made cream and red patterned carpet.
The Dining Room: Splash of Red
The red of the drapes was complemented by the chair seat covers, and when it was solely Diana's home, she had the table always made up with fresh white linen.