The Powerhouse Museum is no stranger to royalty. In 2007-2008 we hosted the major exhibition Diana: a celebration and we have welcomed many royal visitors and heads of state through our doors, including: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and HRH Prince Claus, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Pope John Paul II, Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark and…Prince William? Well, no, unfortunately we can’t claim that one yet. But, I hear the Prince has the afternoon at leisure, so there’s still a chance!
As Prince William was a product of the 80s, and the Museum has gone Back to the 80s itself, I thought I’d look at one object in the collection from this decade currently on display that is particularly appropriate to his visit. It is ‘The Royal Family pop-up book’ published in 1984 to celebrate and record “one of the most exciting periods in the lives of the Royal Family”.
As described on the blurb of the book, it contains six ‘moveable’ scenes of the family, illustrated by Roger Payne and narrated by Patrick Montague-Smith with paper engineering by Vic Duppa-Whyte. The book was donated to the Museum in 1994.
The main scene of interest to us in light of Prince William’s visit is ‘The Royal Crawlabout’. It shows the baby Prince on his first visit to New Zealand with Charles and Diana, not long after their tour of Australia (the reverse schedule of Prince William’s current travel plans, which also happens to be his first return visit since the above image was captured!). The text reads:
Following their tour of Australia, the Prince and Princess of Wales flew on to New Zealand, arriving in Auckland on 17 April 1983. Here they received a warm welcome, despite the cold and drizzle. The one member of the Royal Family the people most wanted to see was Prince William, then aged almost ten months. On one of the few fine mornings during their stay, an important engagement was carried out on the lawns of Government House, Auckland: as the Prince said, this was the “Royal Crawlabout”. Accordingly, numerous journalists, photographers and television teams arrived to take up their positions, almost as the Prince warned them that there was no guarantee that William would perform! But no sooner had he been sat on the large floral carpet that he started to crawl in all directions!
The other scenes in the book include a family barbeque at Balmoral Castle (below), the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer (above), the Prince and Princess of Wales at Ayres Rock, the Prince and Princess of Wales at Fort Edmonton, Canada and Queen Elizabeth II opening Parliament.
Each illustration ‘pops up’ from the page and contains moving sections operated by pull-tabs.
The book is currently on display in the 80s exhibition in the fashion and subcultures section, as Princess Diana and her wedding dress, in particular, had a huge impact on the fashion of the era (many brides couldn’t wait to emulate the puffy sleeves and big shoulders!).
So, Prince William – if you’re looking for things to do this afternoon, the Museum is waiting!