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.
Royal Collection Trust
, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen. Income generated from admissions and from associated commercial activities contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes. Royal Collection Trust’s work is undertaken without public funding of any kind.
The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 15 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.