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Press release

The Royal Collection Season on the BBC

Release date: Friday, 12 January 2018

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The Royal Collection Season, a major partnership between Royal Collection Trust and the BBC, brings both masterpieces and lesser-known works of art from the Royal Collection to audiences across Britain. The Season includes programming across BBC One, Two and Four, as well as on BBC Radio 3, 4 and Local Radio, in January and February 2018.

The Season begins on BBC One with The Coronation an hour-long programme telling the story of the Crown Jewels and the ancient ceremony for which they are used.  As part of the film, to mark the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen's Coronation, The Queen views both private and official film footage and shares memories of the ceremony, as well as that of her father, King George VI, in 1937.

The centrepiece of the Season is a four-part series on BBC Four, Art, Passion & Power: The Story of the Royal Collection, written and presented by Andrew Graham-Dixon. This is the first time in 40 years that the story of the Royal Collection has been told so extensively on television.  In Episode Four of the series, Andrew meets His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Chairman of The Royal Collection Trust, the charity responsible for the care, conservation and display of the Collection.  His Royal Highness discusses his recent commissions of portraits of World War Two veterans.

Other programmes in the Season include: Charles I's Treasures Reunited on BBC Two, in which Brenda Emmanus explores the Royal Academy’s landmark exhibition 'Charles I: King and Collector', organised in partnership with Royal Collection Trust; a concert recorded in the Grand Reception Room at Windsor Castle, presented by Lucie Skeaping with performances on historic instruments from the Royal Collection, broadcast on The Early Music Show on BBC Radio 3; and Stories From The Royal Collection on BBC Radio 4, in which Dr Amanda Foreman discovers the captivating stories behind works of art in the Royal Collection through documentary material in the Royal Archives.

Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of The Queen's Pictures, Royal Collection Trust, said, 'We're delighted to be working in partnership with the BBC on our most ambitious collaboration to date.  The unrivalled reach of the BBC will help us enormously in our efforts to create a better understanding of the Royal Collection – quite simply what's in it, where it can be seen and how it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.'

Charlotte Moore, Director of Content, BBC, said, 'The BBC is delighted to be partnering with Royal Collection Trust to present this very special Season across television and radio.  We hope the programmes will bring to life some of the wonderful treasures held within this very important collection to a wide audience.  We’re also honoured that Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales have shared – in their own words – just how important the Royal Collection is to them personally, as well as to the nation at large.'

BBC One

The Coronation

1 x 60, Sunday, 14 January, 20:00

The programme explores the role and symbolic meaning of the Crown Jewels in the centuries-old coronation ceremony.  

It includes the story of St Edward’s Crown, which was destroyed after the English Civil War and remade for the coronation of Charles II in 1661.  It has only been worn by Her Majesty The Queen once, at the moment she was crowned on 2 June 1953.   Now, viewing both private and official film footage, The Queen recalls the day when the weight of both St Edward’s Crown and the hopes and expectations of a country recovering from war were on her shoulders, as the nation looked to their 27-year-old Queen to lead them into a new era. 

The programme also includes eyewitness accounts of those who participated in the 1953 Coronation, including a Maid of Honour who nearly fainted in the Abbey, and some of the choirboys who sang on this glittering occasion.

BBC Four

Art, Passion & Power: The Story of the Royal Collection

4 x 60, begins Tuesday, 16 January, 21:00

The Royal Collection is one of the most important and largest art collections in the world. Containing over a million works, it is a personal record of the tastes and passions of kings and queens over the last 500 years.

Visiting royal residences, museums and galleries across the UK, Andrew Graham-Dixon selects some of the most spectacular works of art from the Collection, including world-famous masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Canaletto, as well as some lesser-known objects.  Examining grand sculpture, some of the most remarkable furniture ever made, exquisite Tudor miniatures and the extravagant creations of Fabergé, he explains what these objects meant to the artists who created them and to the royal collectors who acquired them.

BBC Two

Charles I’s Treasures Reunited

1 x 60, broadcast TBC

For the first time since the 17th century, much of Charles I’s extraordinary art collection will be reassembled and shown at the Royal Academy in London. Brenda Emmanus explores this landmark exhibition, organised in partnership with Royal Collection Trust, including some of the 91 works of art on loan from the Royal Collection.

With the help of art historians and those who have worked to bring this remarkable collection back together, Brenda discovers the stories behind the works in Charles I: King and Collector, including those by Dürer, Rubens, Titian and Holbein. She hears how the art collection was assembled by Charles I and then dismantled by Oliver Cromwell, and learns about the King’s motivation in creating such an outstanding collection.

BBC Radio 4

Stories from the Royal Collection

1 x 30, Friday, 19 January, 11:00

Dr Amanda Foreman explores the extraordinary stories behind works of art in the Royal Collection through documentary material from the Royal Archives.  She discovers how Charles II tried to reinstate the great losses to his father’s unparalleled art collection after the restoration of the monarchy, and how George IV sent an eminent violinist to see the publishers of satirical prints in an attempt to stifle criticism of the King.

Amanda also reveals just how instrumental Prince Albert was in motivating the minds behind the Great Exhibition of 1851, the world's first fair of arts, crafts and manufacturing that put British technological pre-eminence on view to over six million visitors.  She also examines Queen Victoria’s notebook containing details of the Queen's State Visit to meet
Napoleon III in France, a country that only 40 years earlier had been Britain’s deadliest enemy.

BBC Radio 3

The Early Music Show

1 x 60, Sunday, 11 February, 14:00

Lucie Skeaping presents a concert in the Grand Reception Room at Windsor Castle, including performances on historic instruments from the Royal Collection.  Flautist Ashley Solomon will perform on a Meissen porcelain transverse flute dating from c.1760. Chi-chi Nwanoku will demonstrate the early 19th-century double bass made by Vicenzo Panormo and possibly used by Queen Victoria’s Private Band.  Julian Perkins will play the two-manual harpsichord built by Burkat Shudi in 1740.

BBC Local Radio

Broadcast TBC

BBC Local Radio stations across England will talk to Royal Collection Trust curators about Royal Collection objects with links to their area or on display close to where they live, and about how they can search the Royal Collection online to discover more.

The Royal Collection Season on the BBC Press Release

The Royal Collection Season on the BBC Contact Sheet