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Play now 25 mins

Episode 3

25 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 05 June 2012

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, presents a four-part exploration of almost 1000 years of the British monarchy as told through the objects of art they collected.

In a weekly journey that takes him from the wilds of Balmoral in Scotland to the isolation of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, from the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace to the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, he selects choice items from the Royal Collection to see what they betray about the art of statecraft and a successful reign.

In each programme historians, academics and Royal Collection curators shed light on the mystery of kingship and the importance of faith, war, magnificence, progress and the people in the minds of monarchs. Each object in the series has its own story to tell and each reveals another aspect to the art of monarchy.

In part three, Will investigates the pivotal aspect of the art of monarchy - the projection of magnificence. An idea as old as monarchy itself, magnificence is the expression of power through the display of wealth and status.

Will's first object unites our current Queen with George III; the Gold State Coach, which has been used for coronations since 1821. Built for George III in 1762, it reflects Britain's new found glory in its richly gilded carvings and painted panels but the glory was to be short lived.

He goes on to explore both Henry VIII's interior design for Hampton Court Palace, by means of the enormous Abraham Tapestries and William and Mary's plans for its exterior.

The idea of magnificence might seem one-dimensional but encoded into the jewels, the gilding, the silver and the marble are stories of political intrigue and personal paranoia.

(Image: The Gold State Coach designed by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), made by Samuel Butler, with carvings by Joseph Wilton (1722-1803), painted decoration by G.B. Cipriani (1727-1785). The Gold State Coach has been used for every Coronation since 1762 and, in the present reign, has also appeared at the Silver and Golden Jubilees)


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