Fit for a King!

Fit for a King!

The Coronation of King Charles III is this weekend! And in celebration we are looking at how Kings and Queens have been portrayed in art...

The Virgin Queen

Known as The Armada Portrait, this painting shows Queen Elizabeth I at her most powerful. As a female ruler, Elizabeth had to use every trick in the book to enforce her authority. Portraiture was key to her success, a method learnt from her father, Henry VIII, who used images of himself as propaganda to publicise his power. The Tudors loved using symbols in their portraits to reinforce certain ideas and associations - all contributing to the monarch’s overall image in the mind of their subjects. Can you spot the egg carved on the chair? This was a symbol of fertility and eternal life, cementing her status as the Virgin Queen. Watch our film to find out which other symbols are contained within this portrait. 

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Did You Know?


The first king of England to have the name Charles was the Stuart King Charles I (1600-1649), who famously is the only monarch of England to be executed, (bringing to an end the English Civil War). One of the most mysterious portraits of him was created by Anthony van Dyck, which shows the king in not one but three different profiles. This was so that famed Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini could produce a three-dimensional marble bust of the king without seeing him in real life. Upon receiving the painting in Rome, it is said that Bernini exclaimed it was 'the portrait of a doomed man'! Like Charles himself, the marble bust by Bernini met an untimely end when it was destroyed in a fire at Whitehall Palace in 1698. 

Don't Miss!


How have the clothes of royals from the past influenced today's kings and queens? We don't mean King Charles III, but Queen Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Lizzo of course! The new exhibition 'Crown to Couture' at Kensington Palace seeks to answer this question with over 200 items that draw parallels between the Georgian court of the 18th Century and the red carpet looks of today. Like The Met Gala of today, Georgians took their court debuts very seriously and would try to make an impression when appearing before the king - often the bigger the dress the better. In fact, Beyoncé's outfit from the 2017 Grammy awards is on display in the room where monarchs would have received courtiers - all hail Queen Bey!

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