28 August 2015
Kensington Palace is to mark the date Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes Britain’s longest-serving monarch with a new film installation celebrating the reigns of Her Majesty The Queen, and her predecessor as longest serving monarch, Queen Victoria. Drawing parallels between the lives of two era-defining monarchs, who have both presided over momentous changes in British history, the new display will explore key moments in the two reigns through imagery: from the milestone coronations, weddings and births, to the roles of both women in public life.
Staged moments from the very spot where a young Princess Victoria met her future husband Prince Albert for the first time, the free display will compare some of the most iconic images of the two Queens, including their strikingly similar coronation portraits by George Hayter and Cecil Beaton, their wedding portraits, and images of both monarchs undertaking largely unchanged ceremonial duties throughout their long reigns: meeting world leaders, and representing Great Britain on the global stage.
The installation will highlight the impact of the development of technology on the monarchy. A portrait of Queen Victoria before a small audience opening the Great Exhibition in 1851 – is contrasted with an image of Her Majesty The Queen at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012, addressing a global television audience of 900 million. Both Queens have presided over eras of rapid growth in industry: whilst the steam engine revolutionised Victorian Britain, an image of Her Majesty The Queen delivering her first tweet highlights the power of the internet, invented during her reign.
Deirdre Murphy, Senior Curator, Kensington Palace, said,
‘We wanted to mark this important moment in the reign of Her Majesty The Queen by paying tribute both to her, and to her predecessor as longest reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, who was born and raised at Kensington Palace. By drawing parallels between the reigns of these two remarkable women, we hope that visitors to Kensington will reflect again on the impact and importance of the reign of Queen Victoria, whose life we explore in a permanent exhibition in the rooms where she grew up in the palace.’
Kensington Palace was the scene of some of the most notable events of Queen Victoria’s life. Born at the palace in 1819, the young Princess grew up there under the watchful eye of her mother, the Duchess of Kent. It was at the palace in June 1837 that the eighteen year old Princess woke to the news of her accession to the British throne.
Her life and reign are explored today in the ‘Victoria Revealed’ exhibition, at the palace which tells Queen Victoria’s story in her own words, using extracts from her journals and letters, in the rooms where she grew up. On display in the exhibition are items from throughout her long reign, including the first declaration she signed as monarch, and a boxwood cradle, commissioned for her daughter Princess Louise, which was displayed in the Great Exhibition.