Like many people across the globe, I’m fascinated by the royals so when I saw that the Museum of Fine Arts Houston had an exhibit so titled, I couldn’t resist checking it out. It began with the Tudors and continued through the moderns.
Interestingly, portraits of the royals began with the Tudors who are some of English history’s most familiar figures. Henry VIII was of this period and, of course, we’ve all heard about Henry and his six wives. Except for one, all failed to give him a son and were gotten rid of one way or another. When finally there was a son, the mother died shortly after childbirth.
Queen Elizabeth I is one of the more renowned Tudors and she, too, is the subject of many stories. I’m thinking she was a feminist long before her time.
Since Elizabeth had no children, she was succeeded by James, first of the Stuart royals and the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. Isn’t that ironic since Elizabeth virtually took the throne of England from her?
Though not a royal, Lady Jane Grey was of the period. Hers is a name I vaguely remember, but if I ever knew she was beheaded at 16 for being a threat to the throne I have forgotten.
One of my favorite personalities of this period is Nell Gwyn who is said to be the first woman to act on stage.
She was also the mistress of Charles II and had two sons by him. Since they were illegitimate, the were not able to succeed him.
One of the notable achievements of the Stuarts was the creation of the position of prime minister around 1727. The most familiar of those who held the office was William Pitt whose claim to fame is uniting England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Moving on to the Georgian era, the best known is Queen Victoria who, until Queen Elizabeth surpassed her, was the longest reigning monarch. I have long been fascinated by her relationship with Albert who died all too young.
The Georgian era is of great significance as it was one of increased industrialization, expansion of the British empire, significant development in science, philosophy and technology. During it, photography was becoming important and produced the first photos of royals.
The current era belongs to the Windsors. What drama has occurred during this period. Edward VIII abdicated, choosing to live his life with Wallace Simpson, an American divorcee. I have long wondered if he just didn’t have stomach for the job.
The reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, became queen long before she expected, and she and Philip have weathered their storms into their 90’s.
With so many years as queen, she has been painted and photographed numerous times. My favorite representation was this by Andy Warhol who is said to have been obsessed with the queen and hoped to be as famous as she.
Of course, there is Charles who is known as the longest king in waiting and may well be the oldest to ascend the throne when/if that happens.
In the entire exhibition, it is easy to tell who is the favorite. It is Diana who brought youth and new vitality to the royalty and has become the stuff of legend.
While others had a painting or photo or two, Diana’s image filled an entire wall!
For some time Diana has been the story, but it is now being written by the New Moderns, William and Harry and their families. Time will tell what the next chapter is, and I suspect we’ll follow along with the same fascination as has existed for eons.
All in all, The Royals was an incredibly interesting exhibit. It was a history lesson as well as entertaining. I hope you have learned a little something and enjoyed these snippets which tell only part of the story.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind