Considering that balls are a thing of the past, it is not hard to imagine that this ballroom was added to Buckingham Palace in 1855. That means this ballroom is more than 160 years old. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the room was completed and it served as both a ball and concert room.
The Ballroom once occupied center stage at the palace — a hub of all events. It was the largest room in the palace. Naturally, since then, it has undergone many renovations. While balls may be a thing of the past, state banquets are still a thing and, in this photo, we see royal workers preparing this old chamber for one such event.
October 1918 was momentous for world history. A depleted and defeated Germany approached the United States about signing an armistice. British soldiers on the frontlines had already begun to sense a shift in the air. Could it be? Was the war truly ending? Their hope was realized on November 11, 1918, when an armistice was signed at Le Francport near Compiègne signaling the end of World War I.
This photo captures that occasion. We see nurses and soldiers in complete elation celebrating the end of the Great War. As these professionals were serving on the frontlines and had firsthand experience with the horrors of the war, it is little wonder that they were in a state of utter jubilation. What makes this photo more momentous is that it was taken just outside of Buckingham Palace in London – a rare find in the Buckingham collection.
Namatjira’s Work at Buckingham Palace
Albert Namatjira was an Australian Aboriginal artist and is recognized as one of Australia’s finest painters. More than fifty years after meeting Queen Elizabeth II in Canberra, his grandchildren, Kevin Namatjira and Lenie Namatjira – standing behind the Queen – presented Her Majesty with these two artworks. Back in 1947, the artist had actually gifted Her Majesty a painting. Considering that Queen Elizabeth awarded Albert Namatjira with a coronation medal, this photograph captures a touching moment.
Moreover, the Queen added two more beautiful paintings to her already respectable collection. Like their grandfather, Kevin and Lenie Namatjira are respected artists in Australia. On this occasion, they presented Her Majesty with one of their own paintings and a postcard made by children from their community. The two also advocated for a better future for indigenous Australia.
Buckingham Palace Bomb Damage
Since Buckingham Palace is located in London, during the Second World War, it would be in the range of fire for bombs dropped on the city. All in all, Buckingham Palace would be bombed on seven occasions. In this photo taken on September 13, 1940, we see a young King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth the Mother, surveying damage to the palace after a German bombing raid.
When the war first broke out, the royal family was evacuated and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were sent to Windsor Castle. Press coverage of the royals during the war was minimal but this incident of them inspecting the damage was filmed. The coverage intended to showcase the common suffering that united the rich and the poor – a sign that the royals shared the grief and hardship of their subjects.
Palace Chapel Destroyed
The devastation during the eight-month Blitz was all-encompassing. And the royal residences were high on the radar of the Luftwaffe. Buckingham Palace became the target of a total of seven German bombing raids. Children living in bigger cities such as London and Liverpool were evacuated to the countryside, but sadly, nothing could keep the Palace out of reach from the bombers.
On this occasion, we see the destruction of the Palace Chapel. This photo was taken in November 1940. In the photo, we witness the wreckage of the altar and the royal chairs, and the sadness on the faces of the men examining the chapel’s ruins.