Royal photographs can be widely considered as important historical artefacts, similarly to the painted portrait of a renaissance monarch, portraits of the British royal family hold significance and value. Few selected photographers have been granted the honor of photographing her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but this might be about to change.
In a new exhibition, Life Through A Royal Lens, expected to be displayed at the Kensington Palace opening on 04 March, the public have been invited to submit their own images captured of the royal family during outings and events, that will feature alongside work from some of the most iconic royal photographers of our time.
Photography entries close on 31 January and participants must be 18 or over.
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Portraits by Annie Leibovitz, striking photographs featuring the Duchess of Cambridge by Paolo Roversi, shots by Chris Levine, Norman Parkinson, Rankin and film contact sheets of the young Queen Elizabeth II by Sir Cecil Beaton, all portray a renowned stoic collection of images that adequately represented the royal family throughout each generation.
The intent of the exhibition, postponed from its original opening in 2020, is to examine the evolution of the British royal Family's image across three centuries. The enduring relationship between the royals and the camera will be explored from the reign of Queen Victoria up until the present day.
Being photographed as poised and posed in the comfort of the palace is certain to juxtapose against images of the royals that have been captured candidly during a walkabout, or at events shot from within a crowd, or even shots of royals when out meeting
peasants people around the city. Life Through A Royal Lens will display official royal photographs, professional portraits, and magazine covers that collectively chart almost 200 years of royal photography.
A selection of images taken by Royal Family members themselves will be included in the upcoming exhibition, these include works by Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Lord Snowdon, husband of Princess Margaret) who has previously executed some of the most revealing and modern images of monarchy. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is an avid photographer herself and patron of the Royal Photographic Society.
Claudia Acott Williams, Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, shared that “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.”
Interestingly, only 20 images submitted from the public, in a relaxed informality of the digital age, are to be selected by Kensington Palace curators to join the exhibition. A revolving digital display will see the publicly contributed images exhibited next to famous royal works, we assume the chosen images will be those of high-resolution quality and appear flattering towards the subjects - and likely exclude Meghan and Harry.
Terms and conditions for entries state that considered photos must include a member of the royal family performing their public duties, and that photos captured of subjects off-duty will not be accepted. Chosen images will be installed for display in Kensington Palace in London from 04 March to 30 October 2022.
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