A Royal Affair

18 September 2015

Empire and Globalism | History

Whilst browsing through a collection of material from our up-coming World’s Fairs resource, a familiar face appeared to me amidst a stream of photographs of jubilant crowds, exotic pavilions and iconic industrial feats. It was none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attending Expo 67, Montreal’s international exposition. With celebrations ongoing for the Queen’s achievement of Great Britain’s longest reigning monarch, I thought I’d throw in my (royally minted) two pennies worth with these lovely snapshots, taken almost 50 years ago.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the Expo 67 Minirail and standing in front of the 'Family of Man' sculpture. Image @ Library and Archives Canada. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Montreal’s exposition commemorated the centennial of the Canadian Confederation which was established under the rule of Queen Victoria. Here, a century later, her great-great granddaughter Elizabeth joins in with the celebrations as she samples the delights of the Expo 67 site.

Queen Elizabeth’s appearance at Expo 67 marked a tradition that had begun four generations before her with her great-great grandfather, Prince Albert. The Prince conceived of the idea of an international exposition to showcase and celebrate industry and culture across Britain’s Empire. This culminated in the hugely successful and influential Great Exhibition of 1851 which started a trend in international exhibitions that continues to this day. Since then, the legacies of the Queen’s family and of world’s fairs have been intertwined and evidence of this is scattered throughout the diverse collection of material we have available in our World’s Fairs resource.

Image @ Victoria and Albert Museum. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Above is Prince Albert’s signed fair pass used for his admission to the Great Exhibition. Two generations later Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather, King George V opened the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 at Wembley Park and below is a beautiful map of the fair site, designed by Kennedy North:

Image @ Madden Library, Fresno State. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

The map is inscribed with the following message from Queen Elizabeth’s uncle “Edward P”, the Prince of Wales, over ten years before his controversial abdication:

“We must unite to make the British Empire Exhibition a success worthy of our race – I shall hope to see many friends from the Dominions and Colonies at Wembley Park in 1924”.

With the UK planning a bid to host the world’s Expo 2025, the latest additions to the Windsor family may soon get their chance to share in this 164 year old tradition and, more importantly, to have a jolly good day at the fair!

World’s Fairs: A Global History of Expositions will be published in spring 2016. Full access restricted to authenticated academic institutions who have purchased a license.

About the Author

Amy Hubbard

Amy Hubbard

Since joining Adam Matthew’s editorial team in January 2015 I’ve had the privilege to work on some fantastic resources including ‘World’s Fairs: A Global History of Exhibitions’, 'Race Relations in America‘ and 'Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda’. My academic background is in literature and film and my main academic interests lie in visual culture, in particular anything to do with David Bowie.