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Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton at the V&A

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton at the V&A

When: 8th February – 22nd April
Where: The Victoria & Albert Museum, London


Queen Elizabeth II in Coronation Robes by CecilBeaton, June1953

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this summer has spurred on a huge cultural surge of exhibitions and shows across the country. One exhibition that pays homage to the changing images of the Queen is Cecil Beaton’s photography collection at the V&A Museum, which opened last month. This collection showcases a selection of Beaton’s most celebrated portraits; images that were crucial in shaping the Queen’s public image in the mid 20th century.

The most illuminating facet of this exhibition is the line of narrative that runs throughout Beaton’s images. His intimate portraits of Elizabeth II document the changes that have taken place throughout her life, changes that have affected not just her private life, but the nation’s perceptions of her. We see her develop, through image, from a romanticised princess to a fully fledged Queen.

For those who are interested in the crucial way in which royal public image is shaped through photography, this is an exhibition that cannot be missed. However, it is equally effective for people who want a real sense of the history surrounding Elizabeth II’s accession as well as a true essence of the very private woman behind the public image.

 See the website

By Radhika Kapila 

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