Kensington Palace: Home to Princess Diana and 300 Years of British Royalty

PHOTO: Seen here is Princess Dianna taping her secret interview with then-BBC journalist Martin Bashir in Kennsington Palace.
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Most remember the mountains of flowers and notes and cards that blanketed the lawn of Kensington Palace in the days after Princess Diana's death. Fourteen years later, the scene is not yet totally erased.

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But before that, Kensington Palace was the residence of the world's most famous single mother and more than 300 years of British royalty. In addition to Princess Diana, Prince Harry and the future king Prince William, Queen Victoria and Queen's late sister, Princess Margaret, all called Kensington Palace home. Neighbors included the cousins of the queen, Prince Michael of Kent and his wife.

For Diana, it was the one safe haven from the rest of the world.

"Of course Princess Diana had her own interpretation of what it meant to be royal -- she could be very royal," said Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana's private secretary. "But she was also a modern and emotionally articulate woman."

She fiercely guarded her children. In one famous piece of video, the princess shielded her children from cameras while skiing. "I have to protect my children's space," she said, covering a lens with her hands.

But at Kensington, Diana could keep her children away from the public eye. They lived here both during her marriage to Prince Charles and after their divorce. The so-called palace is actually a series of attached town houses.

Diana opened her home to ABC News' Barbara Walters, inviting her over for lunch in 1996.

"The living room in Diana's apartment was painted yellow. When we lunched in the adjoining dining room, she told me that her in-laws were saying she was unstable," Walters said of the visit. "Not long after that, she and Prince Charles were divorced. So the palace has a happy and unhappy history."

The late princess was often spotted in restaurants and shops nearby with the princes, even taking them to McDonald's.

"They went to the public places," said Jephson. "They went shopping, and they went to the grocery store."

While raising the boys, Diana also took them to meet the homeless and people afflicted with disease.

Jephson said that to his knowledge her husband did not object. "To be fair, the princess did this in a sensitive way. There was no idea here she was exposing them to things she didn't think they could cope with," he said. "It was an occasional bit of real-life experience she wanted them to have."

Diana's real-life experiences were different. She would sometimes leave the palace to meet reporters.

"She'd meet them in cars to pour out her heart to them," said royal historian Robert Lacey, "and then it was in the papers the next day."

The drama of her life and crumbling marriage would then be splashed into newsprint all over the world.

It was also at Kensington Palace that Diana secretly recorded her famous television interview with Martin Bashir, then of the BBC, in 1995. For the first time the world heard her secrets in her own voice, from her own home.

"I desperately wanted it to work," Diana told Bashir. "I desperately loved my husband, and I wanted to share everything together and I thought that we were a very good team."

The taping was done privately; the camera crew was snuck in through a back door.

"It took a long time to understand why people were so interested in me, but I assume because my husband had done a lot of wonderful work leading up to our marriage and our relationship," said Diana. "But then during the years you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well."

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