A picture of royalty

With everyone getting ready for this year’s jubilee celebrations, images of the Queen and royal family are everywhere. Even our own City Museum is hosting a wonderful exhibition of photographs of the Queen taken by renowned photographer Cecil Beaton – kindly on loan to us from the V & A.

Recently, I have been looking at communications for some outreach work coming up, and, I have been noticing more and more pictures of the Queen at different stages in her life, so I thought I would share just a few with you.

Today, I have been looking at an edition of the ‘Radio Times – Journal of the BBC’ published in March 1946. On the front cover is a photograph of H.R.H. The Princess Elizabeth, who was due to attend the launch of a new aircraft carrier. For those of us who can’t remember any other reigning monarch, it is almost hard to recognise her from the familiar face of today.


Just like today, advertisers have been keen to use images of the Queen around special dates and occasions to boost their product sales. For example, we have a chocolate box from around 1953, made by Cowan’s, with a picture of the newly crowned queen.


We also have a ceramic pomander from 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, still complete with its Woolworths price tag (a bargain at 85p!). We have items relating to most royal anniversaries, weddings and jubilees in the collection, some of which date back to Queen Victoria, which goes to show that the souvenirs on offer for Kate and William last year and the Jubilee this year are just the latest in a long tradition.

( LEEDM.E.1977.0049.0010)

Perhaps the most familiar images of the Queen are those that take part in everyday life – the queens head on coins and stamps. Most people living in the UK will be familiar with the stamps and coins of today, but even these have changed a little over the years as the Queen has matured. The final image I’ve included is of a stamp from early in the Queen’s reign – from 1957.  It was part of a set of stamps based around a portrait by photographer Dorothy Wilding, which were in use until the late 1960s.


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