Being home to the likes of the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, London offers no end of opportunities to gaze upon the treasures accumulated by one of the world’s most famous monarchies. These courtly riches once played an important role in the diplomatic relationships between some of Europe’s most powerful dynasties – a secret history explored by the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Treasures of the Royal Court exhibition, which wraps up next month.
The exhibition commemorates the five centuries of trade, cultural exchange and grandiose showmanship that characterised the relationship between England’s royal family and the Russian tsars. A stunning 150 objects are on display, running from exquisite portraits and jewellery to ceremonial costumes and suits of armour.
Visitors can feast their eyes on some of the regalia commissioned by Tudor and Stuart monarchs to impress their Russian counterparts. These range from the officious gowns of visiting ambassadors to an incredible suit of armour made for Henry VIII.
One of the exhibition’s highlights is a magnificent collection of French and English silverware, originally a gift bestowed by the English to the Romanovs. The V&A has secured an exclusive loan of these items from the Moscow Kremlin Museum, bringing them home for the first time in centuries.
Other precious artifacts on display include Elizabeth I’s rarely-seen Hampden portrait and, for fans of all things literary, William Shakespeare’s First Folio.
Treasures of the Royal Court concludes on July 14th, so interested parties have just a few more weeks in which to catch the exhibition. Tickets cost £9 for adults and a concessionary fee of £6 is available for students and children; the V&A recommends booking in advance to beat the queues.
The museum is a stone’s throw from Hyde Park, so it should prove easy to reach for those staying in London hotels. The nearest London Underground station is South Kensington, a five-minute walk from the venue.