I really like going to see exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace: they are always interesting and well-curated, and the one-year pass system – by which you buy a ticket on your first visit, get it stamped at the end, and gain free admission to the site for a year – means that you can see three different exhibitions for under £10. I visited on the last day of two smaller exhibitions that have been running since last autumn.
Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East
The first exhibition was Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East, which examined the Middle Eastern journey of the Prince of Wales (the later King Edward VII) in 1862, encompassing Egypt, Palestine, the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. The exhibition mainly consisted of photographs taken by Francis Bedford (1815-94), which are evocative and beautiful. They had originally been exhibited immediately after the tour, when they fascinated Victorian audiences, particularly as many of the pictures were of sites it was very difficult to visit in person. I loved the pictures, although I was slightly concerned at the amount of heritage the Prince of Wales was seemingly allowed to keep for himself, like the statue of Queen Senet.
The second exhibition was Gold, which explored “the beauty and symbolism of gold, from the Early Bronze Age to the 20th century”. A fascinating range of items from the Royal Collection were displayed. I particularly liked the 18th-century tiger’s head from Mysore, India, and I also loved the painting The Misers which illustrated the evils of a love of gold and a miserly nature.