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Windsor Castle's wartime pantomime pictures revealed

Release date: Thursday, 23 July 2020

During the Second World War, The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and her sister Princess Margaret took part in a series of pantomimes held in the Waterloo Chamber to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which supplied yarn to make comforters for soldiers fighting at the Front. At the beginning of the war, the series of portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence that usually line the walls of the Waterloo Chamber were removed from their frames for safe keeping. To make the space more festive, 16 ‘pantomime pictures’ were commissioned to cover the bare walls.

Visitors looking at pantomime pictures

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The teenage evacuee and part-time art student Claude Whatham, who went on to become a TV and film director, was asked to recreate characters including Cinderella, Peter Pan and Puss in Boots on rolls of wallpaper. He shared a temporary painting studio in the Garter Throne Room with Sir Gerard Kelly, who was working on King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation portraits. After the war, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were returned to the Waterloo Chamber, and the pantomime pictures remained hidden beneath them. They have been revealed just once since the war, following the fire of 1992.

 

Visitors looking at pantomime pictures

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During the recent closure of the Castle, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were removed to facilitate essential maintenance work. The newly revealed pantomime pictures can be seen by visitors to Windsor Castle from today, 23 July 2020.