William III was the first monarch to live at Kensington Palace, preferring it to Whitehall Palace. Originally it was called Nottingham House, a modest 17th century villa belonging to the Earl of Nottingham. Between 1605 and 1620 the house was built by Sir George Coppin. In 1630-1 Sir Heneage Finch improved it, and in 1689 William and Mary enlisted Wren to enlarge it and it became Kent House, work beginning on about 1 October. Under George I, Nicholas Hawksmoor and William Kent transformed it into a palace adding a substantial number of rooms in 1721. George II was the last British monarch to actually live there and his wife, Caroline of Anspach took a great interest in the development of Kensington Gardens and the Serpentine. She was looking through a drawer at the palace one day and discovered the famous Holbein drawings now at Windsor. Diana, Princess of Wales lived there from 1984 to 1997. Kensington Palace became a kind of national shrine in 1997 when the Princess of Wales died in a horror car crash, and the gardens South of the Palace were covered with flowers from the gates to Kensington High Street. Today Kensington Palace is a popular visitor attraction due to the Court Dress Collection as well as the state rooms and other rooms being open to the public.
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