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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

National Federation of Women's Institutes

A Countrywomens book 1947

RCIN 1076980

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The Women’s Institute was founded in 1915, with the aims of revitalising rural communities, and of encouraging women to become more involved in food production during the First World War. It continues to play a very important role in the education of women, encouraging them to gain new skills and get involved in a wide variety of activities in their local communities.

On 20 November 1947 Princess Elizabeth, elder daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and Heiress Presumptive to the British throne, married Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. After the privations of the 2nd World War, it was a time of national rejoicing, and a reaffirmation, in the dynastic hopes for the future, of the importance of the Royal Family for the stability, prosperity and regeneration of the country. This beautiful volume, presented in 1948 as a gift to mark the Princess’s wedding the previous year, illustrates the Women’s Institutes of sixty counties of England and Wales; each contributed a drawing or watercolour and a page of text, written out calligraphically, which would sum up the individual nature of each county. The constant themes throughout are of pride: pride in their achievements and character, in the stability and continuity represented by their traditions, history and landscape, and in the part that the monarch (or future monarch) plays in upholding and embodying their way of life. Nowhere is this more clearly emphasised than in the entry of Lancashire, where the Princess’s descent from John of Gaunt (1340-99), Duke of Lancaster and the third son of Edward III, is spelt out and illustrated in heraldic reds, blues and gold. The continuity and stability of the Royal Family embodies that of the countryside, represented by the Women’s Institute of England and Wales.