New Kensington Palace photography exhibition seeks public contributions to form part of display alongside world-famous photographers

Life Through A Royal Lens opens at Kensington Palace on 4 March 2022

Exhibition in partnership with Garrard

They have been photographed by some of the most well-known names in the industry, but now an upcoming exhibition at Kensington Palace will offer members of the public the chance to see their own photos of the Royal Family at official engagements go on show alongside some of the most famous images ever taken.

Life Through a Royal Lens – opening at Kensington Palace on 4 March - will see examples of the most iconic royal photographs juxtaposed with images providing a glimpse of the Royal Family off-duty. From the stiff formality of the Victorian era, through the high glamour of Cecil Beaton’s photographs of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to the relaxed informality of the digital age, for almost 200 years the medium of photography has created an unprecedented intimacy between Sovereign and subjects.

Many official royal engagements include a moment in which onlookers gathered for the occasion can see and take pictures of the Royal Family. Now, curators from Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for the State Apartments at Kensington Palace, are asking the public to help complete the display with their own photographs. From 17 January, the charity is asking people around the world to share their own visual memories of royal engagements, including what it’s like to be part of a famous “royal walkabout”, by submitting images for consideration via the Historic Royal Palaces website. Up to 20 photos will then be selected by Kensington Palace’s curators and a guest judge from royal jewellers Garrard to go on show alongside work by renowned photographers such as Norman Parkinson, Rankin and Annie Leibovitz, as part of a revolving digital display. All budding photographers who consider their skills exhibition worthy will have until 31 January to submit their image and will be contacted directly if selected.

The pictures will join other carefully selected photos of the Royal Family throughout the centuries, beginning with original examples of some of the earliest photographic images of British royalty, many of which are lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, as well as lesser-known intimate family portraits commissioned by Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. It will also explore the impact of photographer Cecil Beaton– one of the great shapers of royal image in the twentieth century - and his work in redefining modern royal portraiture. Stunning photos of Her Majesty The Queen and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, among Beaton’s most faithful sitters, will reveal how his work shaped changing public perceptions and helped create a fairytale-like image of the young Queen Elizabeth II as both a sovereign and modern mother. A selection of photos taken by members of the Royal Family themselves will go on display at Kensington Palace for the first time. These include a number by celebrated photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones - later Lord Snowdon, husband of Princess Margaret – who, as one of Britain’s best-known photographers, executed some of the twentieth century’s most ‘modern’ images of monarchy, revealing a different, sometimes rebellious, fashionable and more informal side to the Royal Family. Meanwhile, iconic magazine photoshoots including the Duke of Cambridge’s cover of Attitude Magazine and the Duchess of Cambridge’s centenary issue of British Vogue in 2016 will explore how photography and image remain central to the public’s perception of the modern Royal Family today.

Claudia Acott Williams, Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: “We’re so excited to invite the public to be part of our upcoming Kensington Palace exhibition in this unique way. We can’t wait to see images shared from royal visits around the globe, and it’ll certainly be a tough challenge to whittle them down to the chosen few, which will be displayed amongst legendary photographers. We look forward to welcoming our visitors into the world of royal photography, to explore the history behind the iconic image of modern monarchy we know today.”

Life Through a Royal Lens opens at Kensington Palace on 4 March 2022 and is included in palace admission.

To enter, please visit: www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace/whats-on/life-through-a-royal-lens/life-through-a-royal-lens-photo-submissions/

Notes to Editors

Selection criteria include:

  • Images must have been taken of official royal engagements. Unofficial photos of the Royal Family off-duty will not be accepted.
  • Only images submitted via the webform on the Historic Royal Palaces website will be considered.
  • Entrants must be aged 18 and over.
  • Submissions will only be accepted from the person who has taken the photo or those with express permission of the photographer. Photos should not infringe anyone’s rights.

Full terms and conditions can be found here: www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace/whats-on/life-through-a-royal-lens/life-through-a-royal-lens-photo-submissions/

For further information and images please contact Sophie Lemagnen in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: [email protected] or telephone: 020 3166 6166.

Historic Royal Palaces is a team of people who love and look after six of the most wonderful palaces in the world. We create space for spirits to stir and be stirred. We want everyone to feel welcome and accepted. We tell stories about the monarchs you know and the lives you don’t. We let people explore and we set minds racing. We are a charity and your support gives the palaces a future, for everyone.  

Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk

Garrard has created some of the most famous jewellery in existence for clients including Queen Victoria and Diana, Princess of Wales, rock and roll’s own royalty and Indian maharajas. The uniquely British formula: designs that endure an eternity, jewels that make history and craftsmanship that delivers a bold vision. See more at www.garrard.com