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Photographic title page: 'Photographic Pictures made by Mr Francis Bedford during the Tour in the East'©

In 1862, the photographer Francis Bedford was asked to accompany the Prince of Wales on a four-month tour of the Middle East. The journey began in Windsor on 6 February. The Prince and his companions would travel through Egypt, the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece before heading back to Britain in June. In 1862, this region was under the control of the Ottoman Empire, centred on Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).

Travelling with heavy equipment, Bedford photographed the architecture, landscape and peoples of the regions visited. Of the 200 or so images he made, 172 were publicly exhibited in a London gallery after the tour. The public could also purchase copies. The photographs were regarded as a great success. They helped shape the Victorian understanding of the Middle East and confirmed Bedford’s reputation as one of the leading photographers of the nineteenth century.

The Prince of Wales acquired two complete sets from Bedford. The original photographs are displayed in this exhibition, brought together here for the first time since 1862.

The Royal Tour of 1862

A map of the tour of 1862

Boy and man in front of a large stone building
Francis Bedford: Photographer to the Prince of Wales

Bedford was born in London and took up photography in 1853.

View of Mosque of Mohammed Ali in Cairo, Egypt. Alabaster building seen across square, with 2 tall minarets centre. Single row of columns supporting round arches lining court, left.

The mosque was built in the Ottoman style between 1830 and 1848 for th
Egypt: 1 March – 27 March 1862

Most of the party's time was spent along the Nile

Rashaya, a mostly Druze-inhabited town, was the scene of conflict in June 1860. The Prince wrote: 'In this town, 400 to 500 Christians were massacred and we saw still the remains of the burnt houses.' In July, the conflict spread from this area into Damas
The Druze-Maronite massacre of 1860

The Prince visited a number of sites closely associated with recent events in the region

View from slopes and olive groves of the Mount of Olives towards distant rooftops of Jerusalem. 
The royal party arrived at Jerusalem in the evening of 31 March. They set up a camp outside the city walls, between the Damascus Gate and the Gate of St. Ste
The Holy Land

The royal party visited sites that had strong biblical associations.

View across the court of the mosque from the north side. Colonnade runs the length of the interior, tower above. Fountain covered by pavilion to the left.

The photograph is signed, captioned and dated in the negative, 'F Bedford Damascus'. The number i
Syria and Lebanon

The final part of the Prince’s overland travels included Syria and Lebanon.

The Tophane, or more commonly, the Nusretiye Mosque, was built between 1823 and 1826 by Sultan Mahmud II (1784-1839) as part of the larger project to rebuild the arsenal and barracks that had been burned in a fire. The mosque is situated in the Beyoglu di
Turkey and Greece

The Prince visited Constantinople, and several islands, and the journey home.

Black granite statue of Queen Senet, consort and mother of two as yet unidentified pharaohs of the XII Dynasty (c.1985–1785 BC). She is depicted seated on a throne with her hands resting on her thighs, palms down, fingers outstretched, and wearing a str

Collecting objects of interest was encouraged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.