Photograph of the Royal Family at Balmoral goes on display in Diamond Jubilee exhibition

Release date: 
Thursday, 15 November 2012

An image selected by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh for their personal Christmas card in 1955 goes on display in a special Diamond Jubilee exhibition opening tomorrow at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse.  The Queen: 60 Photographs for 60 Years (16 November – 24 February 2013) captures Her Majesty in fleeting moments on official occasions and at relaxed family gatherings in Scotland and around the world. 

This photograph of the Royal Family was taken by Scottish photographer James Reid (1905-74) in August 1955, just two years after the Coronation.  It shows The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh sitting on a stone wall in the gardens of Balmoral Castle, with a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne standing on either side of them.  The Royal Family is accompanied by two of The Queen’s corgis, one of which is looking directly at the camera.  The Ballater-based photographer was invited to Balmoral on more than one occasion in the 1950s to photograph the Royal Family.  Other images taken by James Reid at the same sitting were released for use on an official tour to Nigeria the following year.

Family photographs have been used by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh on their personal Christmas cards every year since The Queen’s accession in 1952.  Some have recorded key events, such as christenings, weddings and anniversaries, while others are informal family snapshots, a number of which were taken at Balmoral.

Exhibition curator, Lisa Heighway, said, ‘This relatively informal photograph, at one of Her Majesty’s favourite residences, must have been particularly well liked to have been used on The Queen’s Christmas card.  The wonderful thing about this exhibition is that it presents us with a portrait of The Queen in her many roles, as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and Head of State, both at home in the United Kingdom and during some of her many travels around the world.’

Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire has been one of the private residences of the Royal Family since 1852, when it was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh always spend August and September there, and their fondness for the Castle is reflected in the exhibition.  In June 1974, The Queen was photographed with several of her dogs as she arrived at Aberdeen Airport on her way to Balmoral for a short stay.  In September 2006, a photographer captured The Queen enjoying the nearby Braemar Gathering with The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.

Other photographs of The Queen in Scotland will go on display, including an image of Her Majesty in July 1955 wearing the robes and plumed hat of the Order of the Thistle. She is pictured leaving St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, having installed two new Knights of the Order.  In June 2012 The Duke of Cambridge was installed as a Knight of the Thistle.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s summer cruise in the Western Isles on board HMY Britannia in 1985 is represented.  They are seen on board with their children and grandchildren in an image taken by the royal yachtsman known as ‘Snaps’.  A visit to Portree on the Isle of Skye captures part of Her Majesty’s tour of the United Kingdom for the Golden Jubilee in May 2002. The photograph shows The Queen being welcomed by flag-waving schoolchildren.

Other highlights include a black-and-white photograph of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh with President John F Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy at Buckingham Palace in 1961; The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visiting Tuvalu in the South Pacific in October 1982; and The Queen inspecting the graduating officer cadets at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst in 2006, among them her grandson, Prince William. 

Note to Editors

Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen.  Income generated from admissions and from associated commercial activities contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity.  The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes.  Royal Collection Trust’s work is undertaken without public funding of any kind.

The exhibition The Queen: 60 Photographs for 60 Years is at The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, 16 November – 24 February 2013.

For further information please contact the Royal Collection Trust Press Office, +44 (0)20 7839 1377,  Images can be downloaded from