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History academics offer expertise in BBC Radio 4 series

Posted on 21/03/2012

A memorial ring worn by Royalists in the 1650s to remind them of the execution of Charles I.

Three academics from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London have contributed to a special BBC series to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Art of Monarchy is an eight part series, which began on February 11, which illuminates the long history of the Monarchy through the works of art they have acquired.

Through a collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and the Royal Collection, each episode explores the history behind the paintings and decorative objects with Professor Justin Champion, Dr Anna Whitelock and Dr Zoë Laidlaw from Royal Holloway’s History Department providing expert analysis in several of the episodes.

Dr Whitelock featured in the first two episodes, Behind the Royal Image and Friend or Foe. As a Tudor specialist, Dr Whitelock discussed the history of a miniature painting of Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII and Elizabeth Blount, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and the background to The Field of the Cloth of Gold, a painting that celebrates the meeting of Henry VIII and Francis I of France, near Calais in 1520.

Professor Champion featured in episodes discussinga silver table that belonged to Charles II, a commemorative ring for the death of Charles II, a caddinet of William III. He is also due to feature in the final episode, which will be broadcast on Saturday 31 March, explaining the historical importance of books related to the Royal Society and the Hanoverian succession.

Dr Laidlaw is due to feature on Saturday’s episode,Empire and Commonwealth (24 March, 10.30am), when she will discuss objects from the Royal Collections which relate to Britain's imperial possessions since the eighteenth century.   

She explains: “Some items were gifts, which connect the monarchy to some of the most important episodes in Britain's imperial history. The most recent was a shawl woven by Gandhi and presented to the young Princess Elizabeth in 1947 at the time of Indian independence. Emblazoned with the words, 'Victory to India', the shawl was a rather pointed present!”

For more information about The Art of Monarchy series or to listen to podcasts of the series, visit the BBC Radio 4 website.


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