The Royal Collection and BBC Radio 4 Announce The Art of Monarchy

The Royal Collection is collaborating with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. A new eight-part series, The Art of Monarchy, will be broadcast from February. Presented by BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, the programmes illuminate the long history of the Monarchy through the works of art that Kings and Queens have acquired.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Queen Victoria, 1843 (detail). Photo: The Royal Collection © 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Travelling from Balmoral Castle in Scotland to the Royal Library at Windsor and from the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Will speaks to historians, academics and Royal Collection curators, all of whom share their expertise and explain how the chosen objects illustrate the subjects examined in the programmes, including faith, progress, war and legacy.

Among the objects featured in the series are:

Henry VIII’s treatise in defence of Roman Catholicism, which led him to receive the title Defender of the Faith, before his break with the Roman Catholic Church;
A memorial ring with a miniature of Charles I, intended as a token of reward for those who supported the loyalist cause;
‘The secret picture’, commissioned by Queen Victoria as a surprise for Prince Albert and showing her in an intimate pose with her hair unravelled.
Audiences will be able to follow The Art of Monarchy online and view the objects described in the series. The programmes will be available to listen to and download from the Radio 4 website. Video clips from inside the royal palaces and residences, deep-zoom imagery, blog posts and additional information, and a selection of programmes from the rich Radio 4 archive will illustrate the themes of the series in more depth. The BBC site, built in collaboration with the Royal Collection, will remain online as a permanent resource.

Jonathan Marsden, Director of the Royal Collection, said, ‘Just as the British Monarchy is one of the defining characteristics of this country, so the Royal Collection is the physical embodiment of that history. It is also a collection that is ‘in use’. So in this series Will discovers works of art ‘in the wild’, not in the captive conditions of a museum. And the settings, from the Highlands of Scotland to the Tower of London, contribute to the power of this series.’

The Art of Monarchy will be broadcast in eight episodes on BBC Radio 4 from February 2012 (Saturdays, 10.30-11.00am). –

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