Royal Paintbox: Prince Charles documents the Royal Family’s loveof painting

by Matt D


Royal Paintbox follows Prince Charles as he reveals an extraordinary collection of work by his ancestors, many of whom were accomplished amateur artists, while also tracing his family’s love of painting throughout the generations.

Set against the wonderful landscapes of the Royal Estates, Royal Paintbox features contributions from many experts in the field. These include Royal biographers, Royal Tour Artists and Art Historians, as well as several members of the Royal Family. The programme also contains the first on-screen interview by Princess Margaret’s daughter Sarah Armstrong-Jones, who is now a professional working artist.

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Royal Paintbox contains information about Prince Charles’ own watercolours and other paintings by members of the Royal Family past and present. Speaking about what inspires him to paint, The Prince of Wales says, “I think, you know, drawing from nature, observing from nature, is absolutely crucial. I’ve obviously been inspired by just looking. It’s usually the light, is what catches my attention. You can look at the same view over and over again and then suddenly one moment, there’s the most magical light.”

The Prince reveals how, when he was a teenager, the great art which lined the walls of the Royal residences suddenly came alive to him. “Because when you are small you rush about, you know, pedalling or something up and down the corridors, and you notice nothing. It’s just a background. Suddenly, literally and I must have been 14 or something, suddenly all the pictures on the walls, the furniture, suddenly all came into focus. Do you know what I mean? And they had just been blurred sort of backgrounds which were just there. Then suddenly I started looking.”

The Prince takes the audience on a journey into his family archives as he reveals works of art by members of the Royal Family. These Royals include HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Mary Queen of Scots, the prolific work of King George III in the 18th Century, Prince Louis of Battenberg who it is said could have been a professional artist, as well as Queen Alexandra, King Edward VII, Princess Louise, Prince Rupert of The Rhine, the Dukes of Sussex and of Cumberland – and a lino cut of a circus horse done by Her Majesty The Queen as a child.

In Royal Paintbox, the viewers discover that Queen Victoria drew and painted thousands of sketches and watercolours during her long life.


The programme also shows how professional, contemporary artist Sarah Armstrong-Jones, the daughter of Princess Margaret, brings the Royal Paintbox story up to date with the inclusion of her paintings and drawings inspired by landscape, with an exhibition of her work at the Redfern Gallery in London. She believes that the family link helped to develop her talent, “It must come down, you know, I hope we can pass it down to the next generation.”

As a patron of the arts, Prince Charles is keen to create a record of his foreign tours that goes beyond photography. For over 25 years, The Prince has invited an artist to join him on the tours at his own expense. In Australia, artist Warwick Fuller is seen at work on a new oil painting. Former tour artist Susannah Fiennes provides her perspective on the Prince’s passion for art. “So much of the time he’s on duty and painting allows him a little time for quiet reflection and also a bit of an investigation of things at a deeper level than his whirlwind existence normally allows.”

The Prince then reveals a number of the paintings he has created while abroad, and demonstrates a work-in-progress while explaining the power and appeal painting holds for him. “Painting is almost meditative in the sense that that you enter another world, it’s most extraordinary, everything else is excluded. And you become so absorbed, I suppose meditation is concentration really.”

Children from the Prince’s Drawing School in London are shown in class learning new artistic skills. The school, which was set up by Prince Charles, aims to raise the standard and profile of drawing through teaching and practice. “If you don’t have that training, I suppose, you don’t have that base of encouraging someone to use their eye, then you miss an awful lot of the world around us.”

Lastly, Prince Charles’ Godmother, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, pays tribute to the Royal painting dynasty in which he is now a key part. “I think Prince Charles has developed enormously of course as an artist and it’s always nice to discover you’ve perhaps inherited something from earlier generations, which I’ve no doubt he has.”

Royal Paintbox airs tonight on ITV at 10:35pm

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