Queen Victoria etchings that once sparked a right royal row go on show in Yorkshire

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert taken in May 1854.
Picture: PA
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert taken in May 1854. Picture: PA
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The Royal Family’s strained relations with the media are as infamous as they are numerous.

But while dealings have become fraught in modern times, hostilities date back to the Victorian era, as a new exhibition in Yorkshire reveals.

An etching of Prince Albert, with Queen Victoria's handwriting below. Picture: James Hardisty.

An etching of Prince Albert, with Queen Victoria's handwriting below. Picture: James Hardisty.

A series of 74 etchings by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, which were subject to what is considered a landmark injunction by the Palace against the Press, have gone on display at Harewood House in Leeds.

They were gifted to Princess Mary – who was the wife of the 6th Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles – on her wedding day from a descendant of Prince Albert’s private secretary, George Anson.

Professor Ann Sumner, the historic collections adviser at Harewood House, said: “This volume is incredibly rare.

“It is a beautiful and personal collection of etchings by the royal couple known for their love of their children, who are so charmingly depicted here, along with their beloved pets.”

An etching of the children Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria. Picture James Hardisty.

An etching of the children Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria. Picture James Hardisty.

But in 1848, journalist Jasper Judge got hold of copies through a printmaker in Windsor and approached publisher William Strange to plan an exhibition of them, along with a catalogue.

The Royals took legal advice and launched a successful lawsuit and injunction to ban the display – seen by some to be the first of its kind against a member of the Press.

And the case remains a defining judgment in the development of copyright law.

Prof Sumner said: “This story reflects their commitment to protecting their privacy.

An etching of the children Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria.

An etching of the children Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria.

“It illustrates a delightful insight not only into the private lives of Victoria and Albert and their family, but also demonstrates their genuine artistic talent and unique collaboration.”

During the case, barrister Sir J. Knight Bruce said that the printmaker’s actions had been “an intrusion not alone in breach of conventional rules, but offensive to that inbred sense of propriety natural to every man – if, intrusion indeed, fitly describes a sordid spying into the privacy of domestic life – into the home”.

And the Royal family’s fraught relationship with the Press is an ongoing phenomenon.

Last November, Prince Harry launched an unprecedented and stinging rebuke of the media over its “abuse and harassment” of his girlfriend, US actress Meghan Markle.

An etching of the children Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria and son Prince Albert Edward.

An etching of the children Princess Victoria, daughter of Queen Victoria and son Prince Albert Edward.

He issued a stark warning: “This is not a game – this is her life.”

And his statement revealed that he had “never been comfortable” with the intense media interest in his private life.

Harry’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in 1997 after being pursued through Paris by the paparazzi.

As a young man, Harry was once seen scuffling with a paparazzi photographer.

In 2005, during a skiing trip photocall, Charles, the Prince of Wales, was recorded on microphones perched in the snow muttering under his breath.

He branded the Press “bloody people” and remarked “I hate doing this”.

An etching of Queen Victoria's dog Lslay by Prince Albert.

An etching of Queen Victoria's dog Lslay by Prince Albert.

Particular ire was reserved for the BBC’s Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell, when he asked about his feelings in the run-up to his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles.

And in August 2015, Kensington Palace accused photographers of making Prince George their “number one target”.

Beckie Bulton, Collections Assistant at Harewood House, looking through a book contains hundreds of etchings by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Beckie Bulton, Collections Assistant at Harewood House, looking through a book contains hundreds of etchings by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.