For anyone who has wondered what life is like growing up in the Royal Family, the Royal Childhood Exhibition is the opportunity to find out with the Royal Childhood exhibition currently on display at Buckingham Palace.
I took my mother with me. Although I’ve been before, it was her first time visiting the Palace.
My mum cannot walk far or stand for long, so I booked the access route. This meant that we were picked up at the gates in one of the royal golf buggies to the Ambassador’s Entrance, where the Royal Family alight from the state coaches after carriage processions at events including State Visits, Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament.
A ticket includes admission to the State Rooms, the rooms which are regularly used by the Queen for events including receptions, State Banquets and investitures. These include: the Throne Room, the Picture Gallery, the State Dining Room and the Music Room.
Visitors receive headsets with an audio commentary allowing them to walk around at their own pace.
The main displays of the Royal Childhood exhibition are in the Ballroom.
On display are artefacts including clothes, toys and furniture from the 18th century to the present day. The oldest is a doll’s house originally made for George III’s daughters dating from the 1770s to a cotton dress and silver rattle belonging to Lady Louise Windsor, the Earl and Countess of Wessex’s daughter as a baby.
Who could forget the jubilant scenes last year as the birth of Prince George of Cambridge was announced in the traditional way with a notice displayed on an easel at the gates of Buckingham Palace; the easel is on display together with an illuminated address from the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of the City of London.
There is something for all ages with all of us able to relate to the artefacts on display allowing us to relate to the members of the Royal Family of the same generation. For example, Prince Harry is the same as me and the dungarees he wore for Trooping the colour as a two-year-old look familiar as something my mum would have dressed me in.
For those older than me, the exhibition also features old cine film footage of generations of royal parents and children, including the Queen as Princess Elizabeth dancing with her sister Princess Margaret in their childhood home and the young Princess Elizabeth’s wartime broadcast to children of the Empire.
My late auntie was a week younger than the Queen and often said how she remembered listening to this as a child.
There is also footage of the newly-married Princess Elizabeth with the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Although the Prince of Wales has been known to suggest in interviews that his parents were distant and often away on royal duties, the footage shows the normal pride that any young mother would have in her children, taking part in the usual games and high spirits.
This seems to suggest that, although often called away on royal duties, the Queen seemed to have a normal, affectionate relationship with her children.
One question I’ve often been asked about the Royal Family is if Diana, Princess of Wales has been airbrushed out of the picture. I can report that she has not. An exhibition of royal children would not be complete without parents and the exhibition takes a sensible view by including parents whose marriages didn’t last.
The Princess of Wales features prominently in the painting of Prince William’s baptism shown in the Music Room, where his baptism took place in 1982, and in photographs with the family and godparents.
Sarah, Duchess of York also features prominently: the Palace’s Throne Room has been the location for the official photographs at many royal weddings, including that of the Duke and Duchess of York in 1986. The picture is on display because it shows Peter Phillips and Prince William as page boys and Zara Phillips as a bridesmaid.
There’s certainly a lot to take in and well worth a visit.
Royal Childhood runs at the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace until Sunday 28 September. Admission is £19.75 for an adult ticket. More information at www.royalcollection.org.uk.