25 September 2023

Queen’s pictures show up royal mystery

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State Archives and Records has launched a new exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria.

The Queen’s Album features photographs from a special gift to the Queen from the people of NSW in February 1882.

In a statement, State Archives and Records said the album Queen Victoria received was a tribute of loyalty and an expression of the spirit of optimism and possibility that defined the British colony of NSW.

It said the album was encased in an ornate wooden box with the album itself a large book clad in purple velvet embellished with elaborate silver mountings.

“It contained photographs of what to her would have been a faraway place, a land where ancient landscapes, sites of ‘civilisation’ and symbols of Empire coalesced under a sharp light and clear bright sky,” the Archives said.

“The Queen’s Album exhibition contains images from the 1882 album reproduced from original glass plate negatives sourced from the State Archives Collection.”

It said the exhibition reimagines a moment in history from nearly 140 years ago when NSW sought to define itself to the reigning monarch.

“It also compels us to consider if we were to create a similar album today for Queen Elizabeth II — Victoria’s great-great granddaughter — what would we include?” it asked.

According to the Archives, mystery surrounds the fate of the album itself.

“We contacted institutions all over the world seeking the whereabouts of the Queen’s album, but it was all to no avail,” it said.

The exhibition runs until 16 June, Friday to Sunday from 10.30am to 3pm at Government House, Sydney.

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