The 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth is to be marked with a major new exhibition at Kensington Palace.
Visitors will be able to follow a route through the suite of rooms in the west London royal residence where the young Victoria was born and spent her childhood.
New research by curators at Historic Royal Palaces is being used to reimagine the rooms as they would have been when Victoria was a child.
Among the items on show from May next year will be a scrapbook of mementos created by Victoria’s German governess, Baroness Lehzen, which goes on public display for the first time.
Victoria, who ruled from 1837 to 1901, was the nation’s longest-serving monarch until Queen Elizabeth II overtook her record in 2015.
Her initially idyllic childhood became governed by the strict rules of the so-called Kensington System when it looked likely she would become the heiress presumptive.
She was kept under constant surveillance and isolated from the company of other children at the instruction of her mother the Duchess of Kent and her father’s former equerry John Conroy.
The young princess escaped into a fantasy world of story writing, doll making and drawing inspired by her love of opera and ballet.
As well as the new family-friendly route of rooms examining her childhood, an exhibition in the palace’s Pigott Gallery will consider the woman behind the public monarch, and re-examine Victoria’s later life and legacy.
Rare surviving pieces from the 19th century monarch’s wardrobe will be displayed at the palace for the first time – including a simple cotton petticoat dated to around the time of her marriage, and a fashionable pair of silver boots.
The exhibition will also look at Victoria’s power and influence following the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert, and the role of her Indian servant Abdul Karim, on whom the queen bestowed the title of “Munshi” or “teacher”.
Polly Putnam, exhibition curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “Although considered one of the most famous women in history, Queen Victoria’s personality, passions and politics remain little known.
“To mark the 200th anniversary of her birth at Kensington Palace, in 2019 we’ll be re-examining the life of this fascinating and contradictory monarch, whose cultural legacy and impact on world affairs are still felt to this day.”
Kensington Palace – known as KP – is now home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also live in Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of the royal residence.
Both the exhibition and newly presented young Victoria route will open on May 24 2019 – the anniversary of Victoria’s birth – and will be included in standard admission to Kensington Palace.