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A Royal Reason to Celebrate

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in 1942 (left), and Princess Elizabeth and Prince Charles in 1950 (right), both by Cecil Beaton.

Royal BC Museum celebrates
Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee

Join the Royal BC Museum for a special exhibit of personal portraits of Queen Elizabeth II as the monarch celebrates her diamond jubilee this summer.
Opening June 1 and continuing through summer to September 3, this special exhibition of portraits by royal photographer Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) depicts Queen Elizabeth II in her roles as princess, monarch and mother. The exhibition will include a number of previously unpublished images alongside extracts from Beaton’s personal diaries and letters. The photographs are drawn exclusively from the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Beaton’s glittering royal portraits were among the most widely published photographs of the twentieth century and helped to shape the public image of the monarchy around the world. The exhibition explores Beaton’s long relationship with the Queen, who was still a teenage princess when Beaton first photographed her in 1942. Over the next three decades, he would be invited to photograph the Queen on many significant occasions, including the Coronation Day.
The exhibit is all the more moving as Beaton’s images depict the Queen and her family both on official occasions and when ‘off-duty.’ Elegant and highly-staged photographs are shown alongside informal glimpses of the royal family at home, interspersed with film and radio footage from the time.

Section one, ‘Princess Elizabeth and the Portrait Tradition’, includes charming portraits of a young Princess Elizabeth with her parents and sister Princess Margaret, set against elaborate painted backdrops inspired by the long tradition of royal portraiture. Section two focuses on the Coronation in 1953, when Beaton’s camera captured both the grandeur and emotion of the occasion. In contrast to the splendid Coronation images, Beaton’s photographs in Section three, The Next Generation, reveal a more intimate and relaxed side of family life. The exhibition will draw to a close with ‘The 1968 Sitting’, including a set of portraits of the Queen in a dark admiral’s boat cloak against a plain background, which convey the magnitude of the role of Britain’s monarch.

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