Kensington Palace dates back to the early 1600s, when it belonged to the Earl of Nottingham and was one of several mansions in the village of Kensington. King William III bought Nottingham House in 1689 and hired Christopher Wren to expand it into the palace that exists today.
In the 1700s, the palace was known as Kensington House, a name that was in keeping with its residential character. William III and his successors lived there until 1760, when--after the death of George II--the royal residence shifted to the St. James's Palace. Since 1760, Kensington Palace has been home to members of the Royal Family other than the king or queen. Princess Diana lived in the palace from 1981 until her death in 1997, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent still have an apartment on the palace grounds.