The royal family is no stranger to the power of the photograph. Yes, the Queen's relatives issue statements and give speeches—and during the coronavirus pandemic, they've even mastered the video conference call—but more often than not, they are seen, not heard, by both the press and the people.
And when the royals want to tightly control the media's narrative, whether that's around a child's birthday, an important wedding anniversary, or a particularly significant meeting, the royals will select and release a photo themselves. (For the younger generation of royals, it might even be a picture they took themselves.)
This strategic use of images is part of the Windsors' standard PR playbook, and it's a tactic that dates back centuries.
Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband and consort first realized how influential pictures could be on the public's perception of the monarchy.
The clip above, a sneak preview of the new documentary Prince Albert: A Victorian Hero Revealed, which airs on PBS this weekend, explores that inaugural royal PR photo.
Initially the picture was a private commission, but the royals later allowed it to be republished in a newspaper, marking the first time a photo of the monarch's family was released to the public.
"It's particularly telling that they agreed to that because it sort of shows the royal family as they wish they be seen," explains curator Catlin Langford in the footage.
"There is a united family front, Queen Victoria looking very motherly, tenderly at her newborn baby... I think they were very aware of what photography could do in terms of their public image."
Watch the full clip above. Prince Albert: A Victorian Hero Revealed airs Sunday, June 14 at 8/7 p.m. central on PBS.
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