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Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 18:05 UK
Kensington Palace launches 1m public campaign
Kensington Palace public campaign launch
Actors donned costume as Queen Victoria and her consort, Albert

A public campaign to raise £1m towards a major £12m renovation of Kensington Palace has been announced.

The appeal will ask for funds to make up a £2.5m shortfall.

Building work is due to begin in June and is scheduled to be completed in 2012 in time for the Olympics and the Queen's 60th Jubilee.

Both the Palace and its gardens will be redeveloped and be made more accessible for visitors.

The campaign, by conservation charity Historic Royal Palaces, was timed to coincide with the birthday of Queen Victoria, born at Kensington Palace 191 years ago.

Members of the public are being asked to support the revamp of her childhood home by donating between £50 and £5000.

Donations will serve as a 'joining fee' with supporters receiving a commemorative badge, news updates about the palace and invitations to special events.

More than three-quarters of the £12m renovation project has already been raised, with a £1m boost last September from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

But a further £2.5m is being sought over the next two years.

"Many fascinating stories"

The campaign, 'Welcome to Kensington - a palace for everyone', was launched with actors donning costume as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

We hope people will help us bring the palace's many fascinating stories to life...
Michael Day, Historic Royal Palaces

They showed off items in the palace's historic collection, including a pair of baby shoes and a silk velvet tartan dress worn by the young Victoria, due to go on display after the palace project is complete in 2012.

Announcing the campaign, Michael Day, Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces, said: "We hope people will support our appeal and help us bring the palace's many fascinating stories to life."

Kensington Palace was originally built as a private house in 1605. It was bought by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689 because they wanted somewhere to escape from the perceived damp of Whitehall.

Kensington Palace
The palace began life as a country house in about 1605

Architects of the calibre of Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor and John Nash have all contributed to renovations in order to make the Jacobean house fit for a Royal household.

It was first opened to the public on Queen Victoria's birthday in 1899, a condition stipulated by Parliament before agreeing to pay for the restoration of the State Apartments.

Historic Royal Palaces aims to further open up the palace to the public. Major improvements are set to include:

• New public gardens

• A new visitor entrance

• An 'inner hub' that will be free of charge to enter

• A permanent exhibition dedicated to Victoria's life story

• New education and community facilities

The palace will remain open to visitors throughout the redevelopment, with work scheduled to begin on 1 June 2010.

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