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Robert Peel (1788–1850)

In 1841 Prince Albert was invited by the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, to lead a Royal Commission charged with overseeing the decoration of the new Palace of Westminster. The Prince later recalled the debt of gratitude he owed Peel for this initiation into public life, where he was able to become ‘intimately acquainted with some of the most distinguished men of the day without reference to politics’. Peel was also, like Albert, a connoisseur of the arts, and built up a significant collection of Dutch and Flemish Old Master paintings and drawings. 77 of these works were sold to the National Gallery in 1871.