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Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (1841–1910) and Prince Alfred (1844–1900)

Prince Albert Edward (later Edward VII) was born in 1841, the eldest son and second child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Named after his father, he was known to his family and close friends as Bertie. He was created Prince of Wales on 8 December 1841. Born in 1844, Prince Alfred was the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. At the age of fourteen, Alfred joined the navy, where he developed a successful career, eventually becoming captain in command of the HMS Galatea in January 1867.

Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88), Albert’s librarian, was tutor to both the children and encouraged their interest in photography. The Prince of Wales’ diary entries frequently mention taking photographs, as well as being photographed by Roger Fenton, John Jabez Edwin Mayall and others. The diaries also show the close attention Prince Albert paid to his studies, arranging visits to lectures on chemistry by Professor Michael Faraday (1791-1867) and visits to the Great Exhibition of 1851 and Manchester Treasures Exhibition of 1857. Important albums by Prince Alfred include an album of photographs compiled while on an official visit to South Africa between July-September 1860, while serving as a midshipman on board HMS Euryalus. Prince Alfred’s privy purse receipts further indicate his committed practical interest in photography.

In 1867, Henry Cole (1808-82), previously Albert’s collaborator on the Great Exhibition, drew up a Convention for Promoting Universally Reproductions of Works of Art for the Benefit of Museums of All Countries. This Convention echoed Prince Albert’s lifelong values in photography as a means to share access to collections and scholarship. It was supported and signed by his sons Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Alfred, then Duke of Edinburgh, a fitting tribute to their late father’s vision for the medium.