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Frederick, Prince of Wales

A Dinner Party©

During the early eighteenth century – the period referred to as the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ – the informal gathering replaced the court as the epicentre of European culture. The elites of Paris and London met in salons, coffee-houses, clubs or public parks where their conversations expressed a new political, economic and philosophical liberty.

Princes could join in so long as they respected ‘club rules’. Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712–86) befriended Voltaire; his cousin, Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707–51), visited Alexander Pope at his Twickenham villa, joined the Freemasons and became an active supporter of the parliamentary opposition to his father’s first minister, Sir Robert Walpole.

Conversation pieces show the Prince, who was the eldest son of George II, as an affectionate brother (no. 15), a clubbable friend (nos. 16 and 17) and a popular man about town (no. 18). The form perhaps also expressed Britain’s new ‘contractual’ relationship between monarch and subject. 

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.