New College of the Humanities

Painted out of History

The abdication crisis of 1937 forced a royalist magazine to present a different face to the world, as Luci Gosling reports.

Click to see larger version: Albert Collings' portrait of George VI complete with the invoice and a note for the extra fee for 'alteration of face'. Mary Evans Picture Library.As Britain prepares to mark Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee this June, with newsagents’ shelves stacked with books, supplements and one-off publications to mark the occasion, it is worth noting that landmark royal events have inspired publishing frenzies for at least 150 years. The Illustrated London News (ILN), founded in 1842, had a reputation for producing the most lavish ‘special’ editions for each jubilee, wedding or royal coronation. In 1863 it saw its circulation exceed 300,000, due to its extensive coverage of the Prince of Wales’ marriage to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in March, outselling The Times. The special edition produced for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 included beautifully detailed colour plates decorated with gold. So in 1936, with the accession of Edward VIII and his forthcoming coronation planned for May 15th the following year, it launched into preparations once more.

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