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The Queen: Art and Image

January 25, 2011
This month I made my way to Waverley Station just in time to catch the night sleeper to London for the Press Launch, over breakfast, of our next exhibition The Queen: Art and Image. The press have been offered coffee and pastries at the rooftop restaurant of the National Portrait Gallery. From the restaurant there are spectacular views over Trafalgar Square down Whitehall towards the Place of Westminster. We are, appropriately, in the very heart of Imperial Britain.

Queen Elizabeth II, by Dorothy Wilding, 1952, © William Hustler and Georgina Hustler/ National Portrait Gallery, London

The exhibition has been organised by our colleagues at the National Portrait Gallery in London but will first be shown in Edinburgh, from June to September this year, before touring to Northern Ireland, Wales and returning to London. It celebrates The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and includes portraits from every decade of her reign. Of course the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will still be closed this summer so we will mount the exhibition at the National Gallery Complex on the Mound. The exhibition will include paintings by Annigoni and Lucien Freud, photographs by Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibovitz and works by Warhol and Gilbert and George.

What interests the press most is the rerunning of a clip from the documentary TV programme Royal Family of 1968. This was controversial at the time as it showed a hitherto unseen side of The Queen – informal and off duty. It seems to be this that captures the press’s interest most of all and what I was asked about by BBC Scotland in a live interview I made in a very noisy public waiting room at Kings Cross station en route back to Edinburgh.

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