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Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The Whitworth rifle, fired by The Queen at Wimbledon


Creator: Roger Fenton (1819-69) (photographer)
Creation Date: 
2 Jul 1860
Materials and techniques: 
Albumen print
25.3 x 28 cm
Acquirer: Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)
Purchased by Queen Victoria

The rifle is seen set up on a mechanical rest and ready to be fired by The Queen at the inaugural meeting of the National Rifle Association on Wimbledon Common. The cord, pulled by The Queen to fire the rifle, can be clearly seen. Photographer's credit on the mount and numbered on the mount in pencil, 'No.8'.

The Whitworth rifle was invented in 1859 by the engineer Joseph Whitworth (1803-87) as a possible replacement to the Enfield rifle, which had revealed many shortcomings during the Crimean War. It was still new and relatively unknown at the time of this meeting. The rifle that was fired by the Queen - and the target she shot - have been preserved by the National Rifle Association.

Queen Victoria opened the first meeting of the National Rifle Association by firing a fixed rifle at a target set up 400 yards away. The association was formed in 1859 out of several Volunteer regiments that were emerging across Britain in response to the possibility of war with France. The first meeting was held on Wimbledon Common with the intention of promoting rifle-shooting.

Text adapted from Roger Fenton – Julia Margaret Cameron: Early British photographs from the Royal Collection, London, 2010

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