Bertie in Middle East

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Remarkable photographs from the 1862 royal tour of the Middle East by the future Edward VII.

After a calamitous fling with a showgirl, disgraced future King Edward VII was dispatched by his mother, Queen Victoria, on a four month journey through Egypt, the Holy Land and Greece. The odyssey was intended to introduce the prince to ancient and contemporary civilisations, cultures and political figures – contributing to his education as future king and ruler of the British Empire. And, of course, escape from the showgirl scandal.

He was accompanied by pioneering photographer Francis Bedford, the first photographer ever to accompany a royal tour. He captured images of pyramids, temples, sphinxes and shrines, and exhibited these exquisite examples of early photography soon after his return, to great acclaim.

They brought to life for the British public sites previously only encountered in prints and paintings, and the Barber’s display considers the perception of these cultures and of the concept of empire during the Victorian era.

Generously lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, these remarkable photographs feature in the first exclusively web-based exhibition curated at the Barber. The photographs go on display - from today - at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham.

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