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Cuirassier armour of Henry, future Prince of Wales

about 1607

RCIN 72832

Ornate armour was a huge investment, the highest quality examples costing far more even than a suit of the most expensive silk. As a gift from the French nobleman Claude de Lorraine, Prince de Joinville to the adolescent Henry, Prince of Wales, this armour was therefore ostentatiously extravagant, particularly when it would soon be outgrown. The same armour is worn by Prince Henry in a miniature. It indicates that the straight bands of metal were originally white. Their blue/black appearance today is the result of a process known as blueing applied in the nineteenth century. The shape of armour closely matches the prevailing silhouette of contemporary dress. Here the tassets (leg coverings) show the same fashionable fullness of breeches at this date, while the projecting V-shaped front of the breastplate is also seen in the buttonholed centre front of male doublets – in armour it adds strength and encourages the point of an attacking weapon to be deflected to the side.

    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.