Photograph of Princess Elizabeth launches Radio 4 series

Friday, 10 February 2012

A family photograph of the two-year-old Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II, will be the first object featured in the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Monarchy, which starts on Saturday, 11 February (10:30-11:00).  Celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the eight-part series explores the history of the Monarchy through works acquired by British kings and queens. 

Taken in September 1928 by The Queen’s father, the future King George VI, the photograph shows the young Princess outside Balmoral Castle in Scotland with her grandmother, Queen Mary, her great-uncle, the Earl of Athlone, King George V’s parrot, Charlotte, and his terrier, Snip.  The photograph will be on display at Windsor Castle with other items selected for The Art of Monarchy from the Royal Library.

For the opening sequence of The Art of Monarchy (Programme One, Behind the Royal Image), presenter Will Gompertz and Royal Collection curator Deborah Clarke visit Balmoral to discuss the significance of the photograph on the exact spot where it was taken.  They match window panes and drainpipes to those in the photograph and finally locate the place at the Castle’s south front. 

Dr Sophie Gordon, Senior Curator of Photographs at the Royal Collection, said, ‘This small snapshot provides a rare opportunity to see a private family moment captured on camera.  The Duke of York, later King George VI, presents us with a glimpse of family life in an intimate setting, rather than the more formal royal poses with which we are familiar.  This photograph was not intended to be seen in public, yet it is an important reminder that the Royal Family are just that – a family.’

To record the series, Will Gompertz travelled from Balmoral to the Royal Library at Windsor and from the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.  Throughout the programmes, he speaks to Royal Collection curators and to historians and academics, all of whom share their expertise and explain how the chosen objects illustrate the subjects examined in the programmes, including faith, progress, war and legacy. 

Book tickets to Windsor Castle