Royal Photo Exhibition Coming To Hillsborough

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens’ first ever exhibition looks at Life Through a Royal Lens

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens’ first ever exhibition looks at Life Through a Royal Lens

An intimate insight into the Royals through photography coming to Hillsborough Castle will also feature amateur photographers who have captured Royals on official visits to Northern Ireland.

The Royal Family is one of the most photographed families in the world, and thanks to an exclusive new and intimate exhibition at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, visitors can view personal memories captured by members of the family themselves, alongside official portraits and cultural moments over the years.

Princess Elizabeth arrives in Belfast for tour, 1949 © Belfast Telegraph Archives.

From 01 June, Life Through a Royal Lens will see some of the most iconic royal photographs ever taken go on display, and they will be joined by a selection of images that will be curated from the NI public’s own personal collections as part of a new public call out.

As part of Hillsborough Castle’s first ever exhibition, the team are calling on the public to submit their own photography of official Royal visits to Northern Ireland.

Photos can be from the late Queen Elizabeth II’s first trip to Northern Ireland as monarch in 1953, to the Prince and Princess of Wales meeting and greeting school children at various events across the county in recent years, right up to His Majesty The King’s most recent visit to Northern Ireland last autumn.

The images will join other carefully selected photos of the Royal Family throughout the centuries, beginning with original examples of some of the earliest photographic images of British royalty, as well as exploring the impact of photographers from Cecil Beaton to Annie Leibovitz in redefining modern royal portraiture.

Portraiture room. Life Through A Royal Lens exhibition. The exhibition ‘Life Through a Royal Lens’ explores the relationship between the royal family and photography from the nineteenth century to the present. The displays will feature work from Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibovitz, Rankin, David Bailey, and Norman Parkinson alongside amateur photographs taken by members of the public.

A series of themes will explore the revolutionary invention of photographic images in the Victorian era and the impact it had on the Royal family, and how photography has been embraced by the family as a way to give the public a glimpse into their personal lives today.

A selection of photos taken by members of the Royal Family themselves will also go on display, including a number by celebrated photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones – later Lord Snowdon, husband of Princess Margaret, who executed some of the twentieth century’s most ‘modern’ images of monarchy.

Meanwhile, iconic magazine photoshoots including the Prince of Wales’s 2017 cover of Attitude Magazine and the Princess of Wales’s centenary issue of British Vogue in 2016 will explore how photography and image remain central to the public’s perception of the modern Royal Family today.

Originally shown at Kensington Palace in 2022, an adapted version of the exhibition has now been transferred to Hillsborough Castle, and will feature some additional archive photographs all taken during Royal visits to Northern Ireland, which have never been displayed in public before.

Family room. ‘Life Through A Royal Lens exhibition.’

Amateur snappers can now share their own visual memories of royal engagements in Northern Ireland, including what it’s like to be part of a famous “royal walkabout”, by submitting images for consideration via the:

Historic Royal Palaces website.

Up to 20 photos will then be selected by the exhibition teams to go on show alongside work by renowned photographers such as Norman Parkinson and Annie Leibovitz, as part of a revolving digital display.

All budding photographers who consider their skills exhibition worthy will have until 21 Aprilto submit their image and will be contacted directly if selected.

Laura McCorry, Head of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens said: “We are thrilled to announce Hillsborough Castle and Garden’s first ever exhibition, Life Through A Royal Lens, this June, exploring the world of royal photography just in time for the start of the Belfast Photo Festival.

“It will feature a host of well-known photographers, as well as some special images of members of the Royal Family enjoying time at Hillsborough Castle.

“We are also excited to welcome contributions from those in Northern Ireland who have had the opportunity to snap their own piece of memorabilia during many royal engagements over the years.”

Life Through a Royal Lens opens from 01 June at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. Tickets are available to book, and include access to the house itself.


Selection criteria include: 

*                     Images must have been taken of official royal engagements in Northern Ireland. Unofficial photos of the Royal Family off-duty will not be accepted. 

*                     Only images submitted via the webform on the Historic Royal Palaces website will be considered. 

*                     Entrants must be aged 18 and over. 

*                     Submissions will only be accepted from the person who has taken the photo or those with express permission of the photographer. Photos should not infringe anyone’s rights. 

Full terms and conditions can be found here: