How fan-tastic! Amateur photos of the Queen and her family taken by keen royal watchers will be displayed at a Kensington Palace exhibition about the monarchy’s ‘life through a lens’
- Life Through a Royal Lens, opening at Kensington Palace next month, celebrates photos of the Royal Family
- Includes snaps taken by members of the public, alongside shots by Annie Leibovitz and Cecil Beaton
- Candid photos include one of the Queen and Prince Philip smiling at the Badmington Horse Trials in 1980
- Another stylish black and white photo shows Princess Diana on a London engagement in 1993
Photographs of the Royal Family taken by members of the public will go on display alongside snaps by renowned photographers in a new exhibition.
Candid shots of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Diana, will go on show at Kensington Palace as part of the Life Through a Royal Lens exhibition, which opens next month.
The photos were submitted by royal watchers around the world in response to a request by Historic Royal Palaces.
The photos had to be of official engagements and there was a particular interest in walkabouts. Paparazzi-style shots taken by the public of the royals spending time privately were not accepted.
Some of the winning images have been unveiled today ahead of the official opening. Among them is a snap of the Queen and Prince Philip smiling at the Badminton Horse Trials, in the spring of 1980.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, Badminton Horse Trials, Spring 1980, photographed by Elizabeth from Los Angeles, California: ‘My boyfriend and I were two American teenagers studying in London. We were hitchhiking outside of Bath and were picked up by a couple going to the horse trials, and they ended up taking us with them! It was 42 years ago and still one of the best days of my life’
Paul from Leeds – HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough, Birkenhead, September 2019: ‘Seeing the legendary Sir David was wonderful, I told him when I met him how I’d grown up watching his shows. Prince William joked ‘He thought nobody would turn up to see him, he was wrong!!’ They were sat on a stage, listening to speeches. They just looked at each other and just laughed!’
George, taken in 1993: The Princess of Wales, during a visit to the West London Methodist Mission in Marylebone in 1993
It was taken by a woman named Elizabeth, from Los Angeles, California, who was studying in the UK at the time.
She said: ‘My boyfriend and I were two American teenagers studying in London. We were hitchhiking outside of Bath and were picked up by a couple going to the horse trials, and they ended up taking us with them! It was 42 years ago and still one of the best days of my life.’
Elsewhere a royal fan captured the Queen Mother clutching a bouquet of flowers at the Sandringham Flower Show in 1988.
There is also a poignant black and white photograph of Princess Diana at a quiet moment during a royal engagement in Marylebone, London, in 1993.
Amateur photographer Paul, from Leeds, snapped the Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough sharing a joke during a joint outing in Birkenhead, in September 2019.
He said: ‘Seeing the legendary Sir David was wonderful, I told him when I met him how I’d grown up watching his shows. Prince William joked ‘He thought nobody would turn up to see him, he was wrong!’ They were sat on a stage, listening to speeches. They just looked at each other and just laughed!’
Denis from Lichfield (as donated by his daughter Diana) – HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, Stourbridge, April 1957: His daughter Diana said: ‘The Queen and Prince Philip were on a tour of the West Midlands and the photograph was taken in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge. My father died in 1968 and was a keen amateur photographer all his life. He was a member of the Hagley Camera club and won competitions both locally and nationally’
Mike from Maidenhead – HM The Queen, Windsor, March 2008: ‘I had gone to Windsor with my sister and brother-in-law to watch the arrival of President Sarkosy and his wife with great hope that we would catch a glimpse of The Queen. This was a state visit by the French President and so the town was decorated with many flags. As we waited in the crowd on High Street in Windsor, the Queen drove past us heading for Eton & Windsor Riverside Station to greet the President. I’d like to say that the image I captured was a result of my careful planning, but as is the case on such occasions it was pure serendipity that I caught Her Majesty with the Union Flag reflected in the car window.’
Edward from King’s Lynn (as donated by his family) – Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, August 1989 and the Prince of Wales, July 1988, both at the Sandringham Flower Show: ‘We are beyond thrilled to have been fortunate enough to have two images selected. The images were taken by my Uncle who sadly passed away in November 2021. We inherited them as part of his estate, and it means so much to myself and my family that his work is going to be displayed in Kensington Palace.’
The photographs will join images such as intimate family portraits commissioned by Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, and Beaton’s portraits of the Queen and the Queen Mother.
The exhibition, charting almost 200 years of royal photography, will explore the stiff formality of the Victorian era, the high glamour of Beaton’s photographs and the relaxed informality of the digital age.
Work by celebrated photographer Lord Snowdon, who was married to the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, will also be on show, portraying a ‘different, sometimes rebellious, fashionable and more informal side to the royal family’.
Photoshoots such as the Duke of Cambridge’s cover of Attitude Magazine and the Duchess of Cambridge’s centenary issue of British Vogue in 2016 will ‘explore how photography and image remain central to the public’s perception of the modern royal family today’.
Paul, 2019: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall taking shade under a parasol during a carriage ride at the Sandringham Flower Show in 2019
Jonathan from Hastings – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, London, April 2011: ‘We were visiting London for the day of Kate & William’s wedding. Trying desperately to see them in the crowd, I took this photo which I felt captured the newness & joy of the occasion but also the many times throughout our history this has happened before’
Claudia Acott Williams, Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: ‘Ever since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first embraced the revolutionary new technology of photography, the medium has shaped how the world views the British monarchy.
‘It has allowed the Royal Family to offer fascinating insights into their life and work, transforming the royal image and creating an unprecedented relationship between crown and subjects.
‘Through our new exhibition at Kensington Palace, Life Through A Royal Lens, we look forward to welcoming our visitors into the world of royal photography, to explore the history behind the iconic image of modern monarchy we know today.’
Diamond Jubilee: This photograph of Queen Victoria was taken to mark the monarch’s 60th year on the throne
Pretty as a picture: Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, photographed in the gardens of Buckingham Palace
Resplendent: The Queen looks majestic in Garter robes in this photograph taken by Cecil Beaton in 1968
Life Through a Royal Lens opens at Kensington Palace on 4 March 2022 and is included in palace admission.
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