Lucy Worsley's Royal Photo Album

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Explore how the royal family has shaped their image with photography, from Queen Victoria to Princess Diana to Prince Harry. From official portraits to tabloid snapshots, the camera has been the Crown’s confidante, messenger — and nemesis.

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About the Show

Over the last century and a half, the camera has been the royal family’s confidante, messenger, keeper of memories - and pursuer. In this revealing and inventive film Lucy Worsley takes us through the story of the royal photograph, showing how the royal family collaborated with generations of photographers to create images that reinvented the British monarchy.

When royals and photographers are mentioned, we tend to visualize from the outside looking in: the familiar image of the royals surrounded by photographers, blinded by flashbulbs. But as Joint-Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy is perfectly placed to reveal what was going on the other side of the lens. She will take us behind palace walls, showing how generations of royals have artistically collaborated with photographers to bring to life their own vision of monarchy.

Lucy believes that it is the royals’ skillful manipulation of photography that has ensured their survival. The camera came along at a time of maximum peril for the crowned heads of Europe. While others were losing their throne, the British royal family used the power of the photographic image to reach over the heads of politicians and conduct a dialogue with the British people.

Lucy will show that it was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert whose interest in the latest technology drew them to photography. (Albert was a founder of the Royal Photographic Society, helping secure photography’s reputation as an art form). In the couple’s early portraits you see them crafting an image of a model family that was circulated on photographic cards and disseminated around the Empire. At the end of the 19th century, the British royal family reinvented much of the ceremony of monarchy as enormous photo opportunities.

"Lucy Worsley's Royal Photo Album" will also show how individuals have used the camera to project a different image of monarchy: Princess Margaret rejected the formality of Queen Elizabeth II with apparently intimate portraits of herself taken by her husband; Princess Diana was able to walk the difficult line of being “one of us," while projecting an untouchable glamour. When Edward VIII’s abdication created a crisis, the great Cecil Beaton was called on to create portraits that were set in a fairytale fantasy world, a perfect reaffirmation of the magical quality of royalty.

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