Queen Elizabeth wearing a Norman Hartnell petticoat gleaming in a radiant image signed by Beaton in blue and red crayons. I found large format colour transparencies and original sleeves of his original Queen’s daughter Princess Elizabeth. These are the first times that marked 1948 royals at Vogue. Sadly, early Ektachrome tends to go with faded over time, but not these. They are pristine and as rich in color as when Beaton photographed them years ago. Other treasures flowed out, including an unpublished portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales, when she was Lady Diana Spencer, her first Vogue interview with Snowden 1981.
There are some lesser-known but evocative black-and-white prints, of course by unknown people, but just as influential in showing the development of royal life. King George VI and Roosevelt speed past in open-top American cars; young Princess Elizabeth attends a Christmas pantomime, her mother is the Queen; four-year-old Prince Charles pulls face at photographers in Windsor Great Park; Duke of Kent with him last summer A poignant snapshot of wife Princess Marina and his children before they were killed in a wartime plane crash.
It has been a huge privilege to take the time to browse these extraordinary original images. It’s even more fascinating if they’re in pain, torn, or marked with crayons. These are historical artifacts, and every tear and blemish is a testimony to the royal century.
The great moments of four dynasties unfold: coronations and jubilees, weddings and births, one abdication and the death of two kings; life in times of war emergencies and times of peace. It’s all recorded in Vogue unparalleled style. We hope you’ll enjoy its history and recognise the magic revealed by our royal family as we take you back to the more than a century old crown in UK Vogue It is the magic of our own lives, our shared history.
Robin Muir is a contributing editor for British Vogue, where he originally worked at . He co-authored a new book with Josephine Ross, The Crown in Vogue, published by Conran Octopus, for £30, or in a larger format Limited edition for £150, which includes Cecil Beaton from December 1948 Photograph of Princess Elizabeth Prints – Taken from Original Transparency (B1948-6) is kept in Vogue’s archives and has never been published by the magazine.