When the Queen visited an exhibition on how to be a royal
- Credit: Polly Hancock
In 2011, the Queen visited the British Library to discover the wisdom of her forebears about how to be a royal.
The library at St Pancras, which she officially opened in 1998, was hosting the exhibition Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination.
It brought together manuscripts from the collected by kings and queens of England from the ninth to the 16th centuries.
The Ham&High (November 17, 2011) reported that the Queen greeted patrons, "wearing a pastel green skirt, and clutching a black patent leather handbag".
"Admiring crowds lined the entrance to the library, in Euston Road, King's Cross, to catch a glimpse of the Queen and Prince Philip."
The exhibition was curated by Dr Scot McKendrick, head of history and classics; Prof John Lowden, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London; and Dr Kathleen Doyle, curator of illuminated manuscripts. It featured lavishly decorated gold-leafed books.
A blog post on the British Library website said: "Beyond declaring the artistry of their makers, these luxurious manuscripts unlock the secrets of the private lives and public personae of the royals throughout the Middle Ages and provide the most vivid surviving source for understanding royal identity.
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"As well as providing clear instruction on appropriate regal behaviour they give a direct insight into royal moral codes and religious belief and shed light on the politics of the day."
Dr Doyle, who helped guide the Queen around the exhibition, said: "I showed her three personal prayer books that were owned by earlier queens. She sounded very interested.
"It is the first time I have met royalty and I was very nervous. We were practising our curtseys all last night."
Baroness Tessa Blackstone, chairwoman of the British Library, told guests the exhibition was "a rare opportunity to see these works together".
It came at a time of change of the exhibitions, with the Ham&High excitedly reporting: "And in a fitting example of how the riches of the past can be accessed through the innovations of the modern world, the Queen was shown The European Monarch Motets for Henry VIII in both its richly illustrated original – and on an iPad as part of the library's growing digital collection."