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Royal Childhood opens at Buckingham Palace

Release date: Friday, 25 July 2014

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An exhibition featuring well-loved toys, treasured family gifts and tiny outfits belonging to nine generations of royal children opens at Buckingham Palace on Saturday, 26 July 2014 at the annual Summer Opening of the State RoomsRoyal Childhood brings together more than 150 objects relating to 25 children, from the future George IV to Prince George of Cambridge.  Set against a backdrop of previously unseen photographs and private film footage, it gives an unprecedented glimpse into life as a young member of the royal family over 250 years.

Among the objects on display is the announcement of the birth of Prince George of Cambridge at 4.24pm on 22 July 2013, which was displayed on what must now be the world’s most famous easel – it even had its own Twitter handle.  The spectacular silver-gilt Lily Font, commissioned by Queen Victoria for the christening of her first daughter Princess Victoria in 1841 and used at almost all major royal baptisms since, is on display in the Music Room, alongside the silk-satin and lace christening robe worn by Prince George of Cambridge.

The progress book of Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, documents the Princess's first outing at just 10 days old into the garden of her home at 17 Bruton Street, her first tooth (26 January 1927), and the moment she began to crawl (11 April 1927).  Miniature outfits worn by royal children are also on display, including a dress belonging to Queen Victoria at the age of 11, the 'walking suits’ of King George V, a beautiful satin coat and hat worn by Princess Margaret, and a soldier dressing gown belonging to the three-year-old Prince Harry of Wales.  A glittering fairy costume worn by Princess Anne reflects a common childhood love of dressing up.

In the Palace's Ballroom, there is a spectacular four-metre-tall display of childhood toys, from a child-sized, donkey-drawn barouche used by Queen Victoria's grandchildren to pedal cars, a handmade rocking horse given by President Obama and Mrs Obama to mark birth of Prince George, and a wooden ‘rollercoaster’ enjoyed by The Queen's children.  Alongside a miniature caravan given to Prince Charles and Princess Anne is a tiny replica of the DB5 used by James Bond in the films Goldfinger and Thunderball.  Presented by Aston Martin to Prince Andrew at the age of six, it is fully mobile and includes rotating number plates, pop-up bullet-proof shield, a working smoke screen and electric water jets hidden in the rear reflectors.

Anna Reynolds of Royal Collection Trust, curator of the exhibition Royal Childhood, said, 'It's easy to forget that Buckingham Palace, now one of the most famous buildings in the world, was purchased as a family home and has remained so for over 250 years. This exhibition gives visitors a very personal insight into life as a young member of the royal family over nine generations, through the toys the children have played with and loved, and through the clothes they have worn.'

Royal Childhood is part of a visit to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, 26 July – 28 September 2014.