Royal tour memories displayed at Edinburgh gallery

7th Mar 2013

Photographs taken of a royal tour through Middle Eastern countries like Egypt and Turkey in 1862 are on show in the Queen's Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Greek and Roman artefacts collected by King Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales, are on display alongside the photos, which were taken by Francis Bedford at the request of Queen Victoria during a four-month trip. It was the first royal tour caught on camera.

The launch of the exhibition Cairo To Constantinople: Early photographs of the Middle East marked the first time the images had been in the public eye for 150 years.

Bedford captured approximately 200 images of the royals as they travelled through Egypt, Palestine and the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece.

The prince used the trip to learn more about the area during a period when the Ottoman Empire was ending and the UK was searching for a way into India.

The royals visited Rhodes on the return journey, where the prince collected items which included Greek pottery from 595-570 BC, jewellery and other antiques. Some of the objects were discarded, with the rest displayed at Sandringham House in Norfolk.

John McCarthy, who spent time in captivity in Beirut, has visited the areas photographed by Bedford and will host a radio series about the expedition.

"One-hundred-and-fifty years on and the Middle East continues to hold our attention: for the wonderful sites, the Pyramids, Jerusalem, Istanbul and so on, but also for the political landscape they are set in," he said.

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