It's party-time at The Royal Borough: Kensington & Chelsea

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Thursday: The Royal Borough: Kensington & Chelsea (Channel 5, 9pm)

The Royal Borough of Kensington and the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea was created under the 1963 London Government Act, which was also responsible for the launch of the Greater London Council.

Yet separately, both places have much longer histories.

Kensington was one of numerous parcels of land handed out by William the Conqueror, while the De Vere family, which owned the land, gave their name to Earls’ Court after becoming Earls of Oxford.

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Legendary ‘party architect’ Johnny Roxburgh and assistant Ellie KoskaLegendary ‘party architect’ Johnny Roxburgh and assistant Ellie Koska
Legendary ‘party architect’ Johnny Roxburgh and assistant Ellie Koska

Chelsea had been of importance since the 8th century, and was owned by Henry VIII. A manor house in the area was occupied by Henry’s wives, Catherine Parr and Anne of Cleves, as well as Elizabeth I, and Thomas More lived nearby.

The combining of the two boroughs in the Sixties sparked an outcry from Chelsea residents, who objected to their name being dropped in favour of Kensington, prompting the then-Minister of Housing and Local Government, Sir Keith Joseph, to backtrack and bestow the borough’s current mouthful of a moniker.

It’s led to an astonishing place; a blend of two distinct characters dotted with architectural and historical gems. Trivia fans should know that at five square miles, it is London’s smallest borough and the second smallest district in England, despite being one of the country’s most densely populated administrative regions.

It’s also home to the annual Notting Hill carnival and another event that is at the heart of the latest instalment in this fascinating series.

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Every spring, the historic and peaceful Royal Hospital Chelsea becomes the busiest place in the borough, as it plays host to the world-renowned Chelsea Flower Show. This year, there are 36 feature gardens, with the most prominent of all to be created by horticulturalist Dave Green.

He has been commissioned to create a garden that both celebrates King Charles III and commemorates his mother, Queen Elizaneth II. It’s a huge honour, but it also comes with massive pressure.

Dave has been in contact with the gardeners at Sandringham to get the choice of plants just right. Fingers crossed it will be enough to win the approval of the King when he visits the Flower Show for the first time as the country’s ruling monarch.

Most of us when putting together a bash for friends and family make a list, get in some beer and wine and put a digital playlist together.

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In Kensington and Chelsea, they do things differently. In fact, there is just one man to call on: legendary ‘party architect’ Johnny Roxburgh. He’s produced many a royal bash, including Prince William’s 21st birthday.

Now he’s throwing a party at the Chelsea Physic Garden for a local multimillionaire and it needs to be planned with military precision, including gourmet canapes, a stunning marquee and vast floral arrangements. Every waiter will have a customised outfit inspired by French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, and there’s even a dedicated make-up area where the waiting staff are primped with fake tans and tattoos.

This edition also goes behind the scenes at the hair salon that was trusted to take care of Kate Middleton’s tresses on her wedding day, and cameras take a peek inside the Royal Borough’s car dealers, where vehicles sell for around twice the price of the average UK house.

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