The Princess Royal launched the latest exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery in London last night (Wednesday, 19 October).
The photography exhibition, which marks the centenary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole, tells a story of heroism, bravery – and ultimately of tragedy, that has mesmerised generations.
It brings together a collection of the photographs presented to King George V by the official photographers from Scott’s expedition of 1910-13 and Ernest Shackleton’s expedition in 1914-16, and unique artefacts, such as the flag given to Scott by Queen Alexandra and taken to the Pole.
The Princess Royal, who is patron of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, said, ‘It was 100 years ago that Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his colleagues were going through their preparations for the 900 miles journey to the South Pole. They had already spent nine months in the Antarctic and it was very much a scientific endeavour as much as it was a race to the South Pole. She added, 'This is by far the largest exhibition of photographs from the Royal Collection to be staged here at The Queen’s Gallery...This exhibition is rather special and different. It will be as exciting and informative as any that have gone before it.'
Royal interest in polar exploration began with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who followed the fortunes of the early adventurers, such as Sir John Franklin and William Bradford, and has continued through the generations, to this day.
David Hempleman-Adams, the first Briton to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported, has been closely involved with the exhibition and was also at the launch. He will return to the Pole this year and has said of the explorers, ‘What they achieved, with what they had, is really magnificent. The legend has stood the test of time.’ Last night, he added, ‘[The exhibition includes] the flag which was with Scott at the South Pole. Every time I look at it it puts the hairs on the back of my neck up.’