Portraits of First World War veterans presented to The Queen go on display at Windsor Castle

Release date: 
Friday, 29 October 2010

First World War veterans will be remembered at Windsor Castle in portraits by the artist Dan Llywelyn Hall.  Two of the longest-surviving veterans, Henry Allingham (1896-2009) and Harry Patch (1898-2009), whose lives spanned three centuries and six monarchs, will be the subject of a small display in the Castle’s Drawings Gallery from 3 November (until 6 February 2011).  The two studies for oil paintings and a limited-edition print will be shown alongside the poem Last Post by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, which was presented to The Queen last year.

Henry Allingham was the world’s oldest man when, at the age of 113, he met Dan Llywelyn Hall in June 2009, a month before he died.  During the First World War he enlisted as an aircraft mechanic with the Royal Naval Air Service, later the Royal Air Force, and was awarded the French Légion d’Honneur and the Freedom of the Town of St Omer.  On display at Windsor will be a study by Llywelyn Hall for the painting The Last Volunteer, a portrait of the ‘engaging, charismatic’ Henry Allingham, who sang and drank Bovril during the two-hour meeting with the artist.

Harry Patch, the subject of The Last Tommy, was conscripted in 1917 and served with the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, as a Lewis machine-gunner.  In September 2008 Dan Llywelyn Hall visited Harry Patch in the care home in which the veteran lived during the final years of his life and produced several portrait studies.  The drawing presented to
The Queen is the only full-length study from the sitting.

Following the War, both men returned to their peacetime jobs – Harry Patch as a plumber and Henry Allingham as a coachbuilder for the Ford Motor Company and Rolls Royce.  The Queen, as Head of the Armed Forces, led tributes to the two men when they died within a week of one another in July 2009.  The funerals were marked by Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Last Post, which remembers both the soldiers who served in the First World War, and the poets who witnessed and recorded the fighting.  It was read by Jeremy Irons at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey on Armistice Day last year.

The portraits were presented to The Queen in November 2009 and are today part of the Royal Collection.  Visitors to Windsor will be able to hear the Poet Laureate reading Last Post on the Castle’s complimentary audio tour.

Visitor Information: Windsor Castle, 020 7766 7304 or www.royalcollection.org.uk

Press information and photographs are available from Rachel Woollen, Royal Collection Press Office, 020 7839 1377,press@royalcollection.org.uk.