During her 70 year reign, and indeed throughout her lifetime, Her Majesty The Queen has lived through times of conflict and has had an enduring relationship with the armed forces. This relationship can be traced and explored through IWM’s collections in enlightening and powerful ways, bringing human stories to the foreground and revealing a strong shared history.
Throughout her 70-year reign and in the decades before, Her Majesty The Queen has lived through times of conflict, maintaining an enduring relationship with the armed forces and honouring those affected by war at home and across the world.
Marking the Platinum Jubilee this spring, IWM London will present a rich programme that, for the first time in the museum’s history, explores the role of The Royal Family in conflict, tracing The Queen’s personal experience of war through poignant items, including rarely seen film and photography, in IWM’s collections.
As Princess Elizabeth, The Queen’s first public duties were during the Second World War, which broke out when she was 13 years old. Upon joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, she became the first woman in The Royal Family to enlist as a full-time member of the armed services. Since then, The Queen has supported those who serve and veterans of conflict in her role as Head of the Armed Forces, a post that continues a long royal military tradition.
New research into IWM’s photography archive demonstrates just how keenly The Queen’s role as monarch has been shaped by her wartime experiences. This relationship between crown and conflict will be explored through IWM’s collections, bringing human stories to the foreground and providing a unique lens through which to join the national moment.
At IWM London, Crown and Conflict: Portraits of a Queen in Wartime is a new exhibition of poignant photographs exploring the breadth and scope of The Queen’s role in times of war.
Drawing from IWM’s extensive image archive, this closely focused exhibition of 18 photographs will chart The Queen’s experience of war, from growing up in the Second World War and serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), to carrying out important public duties involving the armed forces. Newly digitised photographs include an image of The Queen dressed in overalls and cap while working on a vehicle during her time in the ATS and captured with her father King George VI and mother Queen Elizabeth during a visit to airborne forces in 1944.
Alongside these, a more contemporary selection of images will show The Queen carrying out official duties such as meeting with members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association and leading the annual Service of Remembrance.
Royals in Wartime
A dedicated trail of historic objects on display across five gallery spaces at IWM London will explore the Royal Family’s long-standing and intimate association with the British armed forces and its key role in times of war and conflict.
Starting with a Princess Mary Gift Fund box which was sent to those serving at Christmas in 1914, this trail will guide visitors through time and space, featuring stops in IWM’s brand-new Second World War Galleries and finishing with contemporary objects from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.