Windsor Castle’s Wartime Pantomime Pictures Revealed

Posted on July 24, 2020

During the Second World War, Her Majesty The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and her sister Princess Margaret took part in a series of pantomimes in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which supplied yarn to make comforters for soldiers fighting at the Front.

At the beginning of the war, the series of portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence that usually line the walls of the Waterloo Chamber were removed from their frames for safe keeping. To make the space more festive, 16 ‘pantomime pictures’ were commissioned to cover the bare walls.

Teenage evacuee and part-time art student Claude Whatham was asked to recreate fairy-tale characters on rolls of wallpaper. He shared a temporary painting studio in the Garter Throne Room with Sir Gerald Kelly, who was working on King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation portraits.

After the war, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were returned to the Waterloo Chamber, and the pantomime pictures remained hidden beneath them. They have been revealed just once since the war, following the fire of 1992.

During the recent closure of the Castle, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were removed to facilitate essential maintenance work. The newly revealed pantomime pictures can be seen by visitors to Windsor Castle when it reopens to the public on Thursday, 23 July.




[Photo Credit: Royal Collection Trust/©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020, Royal Collection Trust/Instagram, The Royal Family/Instagram]

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