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Fan photos of British royals to go on exhibition at Kensington Palace

Updated 18th February 2022
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in Stourbridge, England, in April 1957.
Credit: Denis from Lichfield (as donated by his daughter Diana)
Fan photos of British royals to go on exhibition at Kensington Palace
Written by By Allegra Goodwin, CNN
Photographs of the British royal family captured by members of the public will go on display alongside the work of world-renowned photographers in London next month, at a new exhibition that promises to examine the evolution of the family's "image across three centuries."
The Life Through A Royal Lens exhibition will include iconic photographs of Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Diana, as well as several images that will provide "a glimpse of the Royal Family off duty," according to a press release from organizer Historic Royal Palaces.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, August 1989 at the Sandringham Flower Show.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, August 1989 at the Sandringham Flower Show. Credit: Edward from King's Lynn (as donated by his family)
Amateur photographers were asked to dust off their photo albums and share their photographs of official royal engagements in January, and the final images have now been selected to feature in the exhibition at Kensington Palace. They will sit alongside shots by professionals including Norman Parkinson, Annie Leibovitz and Cecil Beaton.
Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for Kensington Palace, said in a press release that the exhibition "will explore the British Royal Family's enduring relationship with the camera; from the reign of Queen Victoria right through to the present day."
"From the stiff formality of the Victorian era, through the high glamour of Cecil Beaton's photographs of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to the relaxed informality of the digital age, for almost 200 years the medium of photography has created an unprecedented intimacy between Sovereign and subjects," the charity continued.
Diana, Princess of Wales at Hinde Street Church in Marylebone in September 1993.
Diana, Princess of Wales at Hinde Street Church in Marylebone in September 1993. Credit: George from Kensington
Nearly 1,000 images were submitted from people around the world who were keen to share their encounters with royal family members, with photographs ranging from royal walkabouts in the 1950s to the traditional Christmas day service at Sandringham, the Queen's private residence in Norfolk.
Curators from Historic Royal Palaces and a guest judge from royal jewelers Garrard, who have partnered up for the exhibition, chose 50 photographs to feature on a revolving digital display, with some of the winning images revealed ahead of the official opening.
Among the shots is a candid photograph of the Queen and her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, smiling while watching the Badminton Horse Trials in Spring 1980, captured by a woman named Elizabeth from California, who was studying in Britain at the time.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Badminton Horse Trials, Spring 1980.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Badminton Horse Trials, Spring 1980. Credit: 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," Elizabeth said, according to the press release.
A photograph of the Queen in Windsor in 2008 was shot by Mike, from the British town of Maidenhead, who said he had traveled with his sister to watch the arrival of then French President Nicolas Sarkozy on a state visit, hoping to "catch a glimpse" of the monarch.
The Queen in Windsor, March 2008.
The Queen in Windsor, March 2008. Credit: Mike from Maidenhead
"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 said.
Paul, from the city of Leeds in northern England, captured a more recent moment between the Duke of Cambridge and naturalist and veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough in 2019, who appear to be sharing a joke.
The Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough in Birkenhead, September 2019.
The Duke of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough in Birkenhead, September 2019. Credit: Paul from Leeds
"They were sat on a stage, listening to speeches. They just looked at each other and just laughed!" Paul said.
Other moments caught on camera by members of the public include 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, as well as a striking black and white image of Diana, Princess of Wales, during a royal engagement, the press release said.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the Sandringham Flower Show, July 2019.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the Sandringham Flower Show, July 2019. Credit: Paul from Leeds
The exhibition will also include several images captured by royals themselves, including well-known photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones -- later Lord Snowdon and husband of Princess Margaret -- who took the "iconic photograph of Princess Margaret wearing the Poltimore Tiara" in the bathtub at their home in Kensington Palace.
The bathtub photograph illustrates how the work of Lord Snowdon "brought a different, sometimes rebellious, fashionable and more informal side to the family's public image," the press release said.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London, April 2011.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London, April 2011. Credit: Jonathan from Hastings
"Ever since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first embraced the revolutionary new technology of photography, the medium has shaped how the world views the British monarchy. It has allowed the Royal Family to offer fascinating insights into their life and work, transforming the royal image and creating an unprecedented relationship between crown and subjects," Claudia Acott Williams, curator at Historic Royal Palaces, said, according to a press release.
The exhibition opens at Kensington Palace on March 4.