Marcus Adams: Royal Photographer (3 stars)

Marcus Adams: Royal Photographer

Handsomely displayed archive is stately, regal and beautifully shot

The best Royal portrait ever was a line drawing gracing the cover of post-punk zine City Fun in 1981 to commemorate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di. A classic image of the happy couple was waggishly reconfigured so the couldn’t-believe-his-luck fruitcake’s hand was stuffed into his doomed fiancée’s blouse, groping away like billy-o.

While something similarly disrespectful should accompany Wills and Kate’s forthcoming nuptials, there’s none of that in this handsomely displayed archive of the definitive Royal snapper, primarily because Adams ditched his subjects once puberty got the better of them. Instead we take a sepia-tinted tour through the birth of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, through to HRH’s own offspring Charles and Anne and a subsequent slice of the 20th century establishment en route.

Princesses Liz and Mags seem to lose their sparkle as they get older, until the wonderful final shot of what could be any normal 1950s family at leisure. The overall effect is of wandering through the set of a Stephen Poliakoff TV play: stately, regal and beautifully shot.

The Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 5 Jun

Marcus Adams: Royal Photographer

  • 3 stars

A large collection of photographs by Adams (1875-1959), who is credited with revolutionising the forms of royal portraiture, presenting the royal family in a new and informal light. At the centre of the display is a group of photographs of the Queen and Princess Margaret as young girls in the 1920s and 1930s.

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