Regal revelations: Buckingham Palace unveils rare Royal portraits in grand exhibition

As the doors of the King's Gallery at Buckingham Palace swung open for a grand exhibition, royal enthusiasts and art lovers alike were in for a regal treat.

The palace unveiled a series of never-before-seen photographs that capture the essence of royal life over the last century.

One of its highlights was the unrevealed portrait of Catherine, Princess of Wales, which was taken in celebration of her 40th birthday.

This exclusive collection, which also included a fresh snapshot from Prince William and Kate's 2011 wedding, offered a rare glimpse into the private and public facets of the British monarchy.

The exhibition was a testament to the evolution of royal photography, showcasing over 150 images that range from intimate family moments to the pomp and circumstance of official duties.

The oldest photograph in the display dates back to 1923.

It features the engagement of Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who would later ascend to the throne as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

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Buckingham Palace revealed never-before-seen photos in a new exhibition. Credits: Royal Collection Trust

The exhibition curator, Alessandro Nasini, expressed his enthusiasm for the diversity of the collection.

‘We have analogue technology on one side, digital technology (on the other), monochrome, colour and a private commission and the official (images),’ he pointed out.

‘I think it gives the range…of the exhibition which goes from the very private to the very public to the official.’

His personal favourite is a striking portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II, draped in a black cape against a stark white backdrop.

According to Nasini, it showed ‘the queen, perhaps more as a woman, as the person who came up behind the monarchy’.

As people eagerly anticipated the exhibition's opening on May 17, a few select photographs were shared to whet the appetites of future visitors.

Among them is a charming 1964 photo featuring Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, and the Duchess of Kent, each cradling their newborns—all delivered within two months by royal obstetrician Sir John Peel.

Another poignant image from 1943 captured King George VI at his desk, surrounded by his family, including the then-Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret.

Additionally, visitors had the opportunity to view unseen shots from Queen Elizabeth's 1953 coronation and a photograph from King Charles' coronation in 2023.

The exhibition also drew parallels between past and present, placing Princess Kate's 40th birthday portrait near an 1894 portrait of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, highlighting the enduring elegance of royal portraiture.

The photo from William and Kate's wedding, which shows the couple seated in the throne room at Buckingham Palace, surrounded by their young bridal party, encapsulated the joy and grandeur of that day.

Running from May 17 to October 6, the exhibition at the King's Gallery, formerly known as the Queen's Gallery, promises to be a captivating experience.

It's a unique chance to step into the world of royalty and witness the legacy of the British monarchy through the lens of some of the most intimate and ceremonial moments captured on film.

Amidst the intrigue of royal portraits, a captivating narrative unfolds.

Recently, a never-before-seen portrait of Catherine, Princess of Wales, was unveiled, offering a fresh glimpse into her regal persona. This unveiling adds a new layer to the ongoing fascination with royal imagery.

Meanwhile, in the digital realm, another royal portrait sparked widespread discussion, with King Charles's visage reigning over social media for an unexpected reason.

These two stories converge at the intersection of history, art, and public perception, providing an intriguing lens through which to explore the enduring allure of monarchy.
Key Takeaways
  • Buckingham Palace unveiled a series of never-before-seen photographs, including a portrait of Catherine, Princess of Wales, for her 40th birthday, as part of a new exhibition.
  • The exhibition at the King’s Gallery featured more than 150 photographs, showcasing royal photography from private to official images spanning the last century.
  • Highlights of the exhibition included a 1923 engagement photo of Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and photographs from Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 and King Charles’ coronation in 2023.
  • The exhibition, which also included a new photo from Prince William and Kate's wedding in 2011, is open to the public from May 17 to October 6 at Buckingham Palace's King’s Gallery.
What are your thoughts on the royal portraiture? Do you have a favourite royal photograph? Share them with us in the comments below!

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