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Trail

Portrait Photographs in the Royal Collection

The royal family have collected, created and commissioned portrait photographs

French calf leather album by Maquet, with silver gilt clasps and green watered silk board lining, each leaf having four embossed paper windows, containing 100 albumen cartes-de-visite (RCINs 2915115-2915213).
From the 1840s Queen Victoria began to acquire
Folding concertina album containing portraits of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Members of the Royal Family, Foreign Royals and celebrities ©
Daguerreotype, showing a head-and-shoulders portrait of Prince Albert looking slightly to the left. The image has now faded considerably. The daguerreotype is mounted in a dark brown leather case with a red velvet interior. 'P. A. Feb 1842' is emboss

This photograph of Prince Albert by William Constable is the earliest photograph in the Royal Collection ©

Before the advent of photography, only a privileged few were able to have their likeness captured through commissioning an artist to create a painting or print. The introduction of photographic technologies in 1839 enabled a new, relatively quick and inexpensive means of creating a physical likeness. Understandably, the public were captivated and those with the means attended photographic studios to have their photograph taken.

Prince Albert (1819-61) and Queen Victoria (1819-1901) were enchanted by photography and commissioned various photographers to capture their image. In 1842, the Prince attended William Constable's (1783-1861) studio to have his photograph taken. The resulting daguerreotype is the earliest photograph in the Royal Collection (right).

Since the nineteenth century, the British monarchy have collected, created and commissioned portrait photographs. Consequently, the Royal Collection holds a vast collection of significant and unique portrait photographs, a selection of which are shown below.