Summer UK palace exhibition shows Queen's year

Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:43am EDT
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By Kirsty Ross

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - An exhibition running until October aims to provide visitors to Buckingham Palace with a rare insight into the Queen's many and varied day jobs.

Marking the annual Summer opening of the palace's 19 state rooms to the public, "The Queen's Year" focuses on the 84-year-old sovereign's hectic calendar.

It includes 10 hats she has worn to the Royal Ascot races since 1967, a video loop showing her first televised Christmas broadcast in the winter of 1957 and a selection of hand-made birthday cards from the 3,000 sent from around the world each year.

The exhibition also boasts treasures from the palace's storage rooms that have never been seen before -- including the Queen's personal saddle used until 1986 in Trooping the Colour, and the impressive 5.5m (18 ft) crimson velvet robe featured in the annual State Opening of Parliament.

"The robe is worn by the Queen every year and had never been shown because it was too large," said co-curator David Oakey.

Last year the Queen undertook nearly 400 engagements in the UK and overseas, but visitors learn she still starts every day in the same way, by scanning the UK's tabloid and broadsheet newspapers.

But don't expect to brush past the monarch in the palace's ornate gilded corridors: the Head of State has moved out for two months to take up residence at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Before she left, she toured The Queen's Year to provide anxious curators with her royal seal of approval ahead of the public opening.   Continued...

<p>Britain's Queen Elizabeth's Cap of Maintenance, used at the State Opening of Parliament is displayed at Buckingham Palace in London July 23, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>