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The British monarchy on screen$
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Mandy Merck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099564

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.001.0001

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‘A very wonderful process’: Queen Victoria, photography and film at the fin de siècle

‘A very wonderful process’: Queen Victoria, photography and film at the fin de siècle

(p.23) 1 ‘A very wonderful process’: Queen Victoria, photography and film at the fin de siècle
The British monarchy on screen

Ian Christie

Manchester University Press

As moving pictures became a reality during 1895–6, Europe’s crowned heads discovered the new medium and what it could do for their image. The earliest royal films made in Britain showed Victoria’s extended family with a new informality, and were eagerly viewed by their subjects. However, it was the staging of Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee as a vast procession through London, filmed by 18 companies whose products were distributed throughout Britain and the distant territories of the Empire, that showed how powerfully film could project the monarchy in a new way–immediate, accessible and impressive. Victoria’s successors, her sons Edward and George, came to the throne having grasped the potential of film. Meanwhile, two of her relations Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas, were also the subjects of early filming Nicholas’s coronation in 1896 was the first such event to be recorded on film, but a record of the disaster that followed, when thousands were killed in a crowd panic, was quickly suppressed. Nicholas would remain suspicious of film as a mass medium, while enjoying it as a private family record, until he gave permission for a film to celebrate the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913–the same year that a full-scale acted tribute to Victoria, Sixty Years a Queen, appeared.

Keywords:   Monarchy, Queen Victoria, Modernisation, Diamond Jubilee, Sixty Years a Queen

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