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July 21, 2019

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Buckingham Palace show conjures up ghosts

THE ballroom of Queen Victoria’s Buckingham Palace has been brought back to life through Pepper’s Ghost: a 19th-century illusion recreated by Hollywood animation whizzkids.

The dancing, music and color scheme has been revived inside the palace ballroom as part of an exhibition for the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth. The 1856 ball celebrating the end of the Crimean War has been recreated using a Victorian technique called Pepper’s Ghost.

Film is projected upwards and then reflected off a near-invisible glass screen set at 45 degrees, making dancers seem to appear magically in the room.

Scientist John Henry Pepper’s trick stunned and terrified people in theaters when it first came out. The palace’s original wallpaper, friezes, windows and ceiling decorations are projected onto the walls to complete the recreation.

Built in 1854, the palace’s largest room is now used for state banquets and for conferring honors such as knighthoods. The central London palace was unoccupied before Victoria moved in on becoming queen in 1837 at the age of 18. The exhibition shows how Victoria and her husband Prince Albert turned it into the palace of today: the headquarters of the monarchy, a family home and a focal point for national celebrations.

Many of the modern British monarchy’s hallmarks started with Victoria at Buckingham Palace, such as the balcony appearances, garden parties and public receptions.

Victoria’s throne is displayed in the Throne Room, in front of those of her great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip.

The exhibition has a gilt casket of the children’s baby teeth, marble casts of her children’s arms and legs, and the first shoes worn by her eldest son, the future King Edward VII.

Among the items on show never before seen by the public are Victoria’s watercolors of trees in the palace gardens.

Victoria all but left Buckingham Palace after Albert’s death in 1861. She reigned for a further 40 years until she died in 1901.

The exhibition, which costs £25 (US$31), runs until September 29.


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