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Never-before-seen photos of the Queen and her family go on display in Kensington Palace


A series of never-before-seen images of the royal family taken by members of the public are going on show at Kensington Palace this week.

Snapshots include a close-up of a smiling Duchess of Cambridge receiving a posy of flowers after the Sandringham Christmas service in 2014, while another is a black and white image of the Prince of Wales on horseback during a polo match in Oxford in the 1980s.

The photographs form part of Historic Royal Palaces’ Life Through A Royal Lens exhibition, which also includes work by renowned photographers Norman Parkinson, Rankin, Annie Leibovitz and Cecil Beaton.

The snaps were submitted by royal watchers around the world in response to a request by Historic Royal Palaces.  The photos had to be of official engagements and there was a particular interest in walkabouts. Paparazzi-style shots taken by the public of the royals spending time privately were not accepted.

From July 6, the 25 images on show since the exhibition opened will be replaced with 25 new contributions. 

A series of never-before-seen images of the royal family taken by members of the public are going on show at Kensington Palace this week (pictured, a photograph of Kate Middleton at Christmas in Sandringham in 2014) 

The Queen, dressed in bright yellow, and her daughter, the Princess Royal, are photographed travelling side by side in a carriage at Ascot in 2018

The Queen, dressed in bright yellow, and her daughter, the Princess Royal, are photographed travelling side by side in a carriage at Ascot in 2018

Nearly 1,000 images were submitted following an appeal to the public to share their own memories of the royals in the Platinum Jubilee year.

Amy from London, who took the picture of Kate at Sandringham, said: ‘I’ve often been to Sandringham with my aunt to see the royals on Christmas Day as my family lives nearby in Lincolnshire.

‘Kate was asking a young girl about her Christmas dinner plans and had been given so many flowers she could barely hold them all.

‘It was so worth getting up early and standing in the cold to take this photo, which I think shows Kate’s natural warmth and affinity towards children.’

Another is a black and white image of the Prince of Wales on horseback during a polo match in Oxford in the 1980s (pictured)

Another is a black and white image of the Prince of Wales on horseback during a polo match in Oxford in the 1980s (pictured) 

Those images selected include the Queen smiling broadly despite the rain at the opening of The Lowry theatre and gallery complex in Salford in 2000.

David from Leeds, who took the image, said: ‘It was pouring with rain and HM had just returned from Balmoral.

‘I asked if she had brought the Scottish weather with her. She chuckled and said at least the dogs seem to love it.’

The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh are also pictured driving past crowds of well-wishers in Derby in a throwback image during the Silver Jubilee of 1977.

The Queen, dressed in bright yellow, and her daughter, the Princess Royal, are photographed travelling side by side in a carriage at Ascot in 2018.

The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh are also pictured driving past crowds of well-wishers in Derby in a throwback image during the Silver Jubilee of 1977

The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh are also pictured driving past crowds of well-wishers in Derby in a throwback image during the Silver Jubilee of 1977

Those images selected include the Queen smiling broadly despite the rain at the opening of The Lowry theatre and gallery complex in Salford in 2000

Those images selected include the Queen smiling broadly despite the rain at the opening of The Lowry theatre and gallery complex in Salford in 2000

Laura from London, who took the picture. said: ‘I was so pleased to be in just the right spot in the parade ring to catch the Queen and the Princess Royal looking jubilant and lovely, clearly anticipating the day at the races ahead of them.’

The curators at Historic Royal Palaces – along with a guest judge from royal jewellers Garrard – selected a total of 50 images to feature in two evolving digital displays.

Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said: ‘The digital display they will form is an amazing way of sharing these unique moments in time, to appreciate just how special those interactions with the royal family are to the participants, and to illustrate how photographs create a lasting sense of connection.

‘They will be shown alongside the work of world-renowned photographers and will help to bring to life the story of royal image-making in this Platinum Jubilee year.’

Other photographs previously revealed in the exhibition include a snap of the Queen and Prince Philip smiling at the Badminton Horse Trials, in the spring of 1980. 

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, Badminton Horse Trials, Spring 1980, photographed by Elizabeth from Los Angeles, California: 'My boyfriend and I were two American teenagers studying in London. We were hitchhiking outside of Bath and were picked up by a couple going to the horse trials, and they ended up taking us with them! It was 42 years ago and still one of the best days of my life'

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, Badminton Horse Trials, Spring 1980, photographed by Elizabeth from Los Angeles, California: ‘My boyfriend and I were two American teenagers studying in London. We were hitchhiking outside of Bath and were picked up by a couple going to the horse trials, and they ended up taking us with them! It was 42 years ago and still one of the best days of my life’

Paul from Leeds ¿ HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough, Birkenhead, September 2019: ¿Seeing the legendary Sir David was wonderful, I told him when I met him how I'd grown up watching his shows. Prince William joked 'He thought nobody would turn up to see him, he was wrong!!' They were sat on a stage, listening to speeches. They just looked at each other and just laughed!¿

Paul from Leeds – HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough, Birkenhead, September 2019: ‘Seeing the legendary Sir David was wonderful, I told him when I met him how I’d grown up watching his shows. Prince William joked ‘He thought nobody would turn up to see him, he was wrong!!’ They were sat on a stage, listening to speeches. They just looked at each other and just laughed!’

It was taken by a woman named Elizabeth, from Los Angeles, California, who was studying in the UK at the time.

She said: ‘My boyfriend and I were two American teenagers studying in London. We were hitchhiking outside of Bath and were picked up by a couple going to the horse trials, and they ended up taking us with them! It was 42 years ago and still one of the best days of my life.’

Elsewhere a royal fan captured the Queen Mother clutching a bouquet of flowers at the Sandringham Flower Show in 1988.

There is also a poignant black and white photograph of Princess Diana at a quiet moment during a royal engagement in Marylebone, London, in 1993.

Amateur photographer Paul, from Leeds, snapped the Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough sharing a joke during a joint outing in Birkenhead, in September 2019.

George, taken in 1993: The Princess of Wales, during a visit to the West London Methodist Mission in Marylebone in 1993

George, taken in 1993: The Princess of Wales, during a visit to the West London Methodist Mission in Marylebone in 1993

Denis from Lichfield (as donated by his daughter Diana) ¿ HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, Stourbridge, April 1957: His daughter Diana said: 'The Queen and Prince Philip were on a tour of the West Midlands and the photograph was taken in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge. My father died in 1968 and was a keen amateur photographer all his life. He was a member of the Hagley Camera club and won competitions both locally and nationally'

Denis from Lichfield (as donated by his daughter Diana) – HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, Stourbridge, April 1957: His daughter Diana said: ‘The Queen and Prince Philip were on a tour of the West Midlands and the photograph was taken in Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge. My father died in 1968 and was a keen amateur photographer all his life. He was a member of the Hagley Camera club and won competitions both locally and nationally’

He said: ‘Seeing the legendary Sir David was wonderful, I told him when I met him how I’d grown up watching his shows. Prince William joked ‘He thought nobody would turn up to see him, he was wrong!’ They were sat on a stage, listening to speeches. They just looked at each other and just laughed!’

The photographs will join images such as intimate family portraits commissioned by Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, and Beaton’s portraits of the Queen and the Queen Mother.

The exhibition, charting almost 200 years of royal photography, will explore the stiff formality of the Victorian era, the high glamour of Beaton’s photographs and the relaxed informality of the digital age.

Mike from Maidenhead - HM The Queen, Windsor, March 2008: ¿I had gone to Windsor with my sister and brother-in-law to watch the arrival of President Sarkosy and his wife with great hope that we would catch a glimpse of The Queen. This was a state visit by the French President and so the town was decorated with many flags. As we waited in the crowd on High Street in Windsor, the Queen drove past us heading for Eton & Windsor Riverside Station to greet the President. I¿d like to say that the image I captured was a result of my careful planning, but as is the case on such occasions it was pure serendipity that I caught Her Majesty with the Union Flag reflected in the car window.¿

Mike from Maidenhead – HM The Queen, Windsor, March 2008: ‘I had gone to Windsor with my sister and brother-in-law to watch the arrival of President Sarkosy and his wife with great hope that we would catch a glimpse of The Queen. This was a state visit by the French President and so the town was decorated with many flags. As we waited in the crowd on High Street in Windsor, the Queen drove past us heading for Eton & Windsor Riverside Station to greet the President. I’d like to say that the image I captured was a result of my careful planning, but as is the case on such occasions it was pure serendipity that I caught Her Majesty with the Union Flag reflected in the car window.’

Edward from King's Lynn (as donated by his family) ¿ Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, August 1989, at the Sandringham Flower Show: 'We are beyond thrilled to have been fortunate enough to have two images selected. The images were taken by my Uncle who sadly passed away in November 2021. We inherited them as part of his estate, and it means so much to myself and my family that his work is going to be displayed in Kensington Palace.'

Edward from King’s Lynn (as donated by his family) – Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, August 1989 and the Prince of Wales, July 1988, both at the Sandringham Flower Show: ‘We are beyond thrilled to have been fortunate enough to have two images selected. The images were taken by my Uncle who sadly passed away in November 2021. We inherited them as part of his estate, and it means so much to myself and my family that his work is going to be displayed in Kensington Palace.’

Work by celebrated photographer Lord Snowdon, who was married to the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, will also be on show, portraying a ‘different, sometimes rebellious, fashionable and more informal side to the royal family’.

Photoshoots such as 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’. 

The Life Through A Royal Lens exhibition is at Kensington Palace until October 30 2022 and is included in the palace admission fee.

Paul, 2019: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall taking shade under a parasol during a carriage ride at the Sandringham Flower Show in 2019

Paul, 2019: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall taking shade under a parasol during a carriage ride at the Sandringham Flower Show in 2019

Jonathan from Hastings ¿ The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, London, April 2011: 'We were visiting London for the day of Kate & William¿s wedding. Trying desperately to see them in the crowd, I took this photo which I felt captured the newness & joy of the occasion but also the many times throughout our history this has happened before'

Jonathan from Hastings – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, London, April 2011: ‘We were visiting London for the day of Kate & William’s wedding. Trying desperately to see them in the crowd, I took this photo which I felt captured the newness & joy of the occasion but also the many times throughout our history this has happened before’



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