A regal party

This large-format photograph came to me from the United Kingdom.  Unfortunately, it has nothing written on it and I haven’t identified anyone in it.  Hanging high on the wall is a shield with a crown on it.  Would the crown indicate a royal household?  I’ve brightened it below to make it a little easier to see:

Regal party 2

The women’s dresses are incredibly elaborate.  Each outfit is truly a work of art.  I hope someone will be able to identify this group!

Regal party 3

Regal party 4

Regal party 5

Regal party 6

Regal party 7

Regal party 8

Regal party 9

Regal party 10

Regal party 11

Regal party 12



36 thoughts on “A regal party

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  1. These may be members of the royal family of Georgia.

    I say this for a number of reasons. First there is no double-headed eagle anywhere and no single-headed one, either. This removes from this photo all kinds of countries in central and eastern Europe but not Georgia which does not seem to be a double-headed eagle country.

    It is possible that the crown is hanging from a representation of an eagle which we cannot see. But since Russia was into and is again into eagles, this may mean that the eagle, if it is really there, is Russian and not Georgian.

    Second: that crown looks like the Georgian crown which has an orb above the main body of the crown itself, surmounted by a cross.

    Then there is a woman sitting right in the center like a materfamilias. She is wearing a large white cross with a jewel in the center. Very large really. That could well be the Georgian cross.

    Then there is the ramshackle representation of the crown itself, attached to the shield. If this were a royal family still in power, I wonder if there would be such a shoddy image. This may relate to the fact that this particular royal family began losing status early in the 19th century as Georgia came under Russian control. Just about the whole family had left Georgia by the time of the Russian Revolution.

    They probably had been leaving in bits and pieces and were able to take with them their baubles and enough money for these fanciful clothes. But their status would have been, nevertheless, that of disinheritance.

    That priest would need explaining if these are Georgians. I don’t know what an ordinary cleric would have looked like. Maybe like this. Maybe he is an Anglican seconded to this family, as it were, because they were in England?

    My best guess: Georgians living in the United Kingdom who has welcomed, until this sorry time, so many foreigners in need.

    Happy new year to you and thank you for your interesting photos, cards, postcards, stories!


    Liked by 4 people

    1. A very interesting theory, Sarah! I wish we knew when the photo was made. The United Kingdom has always attracted aristocrats in exile and refugees more generally. (It was a hot topic in Shakespeare’s day, so one could argue that the pendulum of public opinion has been swinging back and forth on the issue for a very long time.) Historically, I think the stratification of UK society appealed to aristocrats from other countries, even if they had to accept a lower status than they had enjoyed in their country of origin.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments and kind words! I wish you all the best in the coming year! Brad


      1. Brad……..I cannot shake the idea that these people were a royal family in exile, perhaps Georgian, but that this photo was taken not in Georgia and not in England but in Russia: specifically the Crimea.

        The Crimea whose weather is warm, whose ecology varies between temperate and subtropical. These plants may well be natural to this area. Of course, Russia has never let Crimea go…….

        I entertained the though that this may also have been Kew Gardens in London set up as a setting for this photograph. But I don’t think that curtain at the back would have been allowed into a botanical garden. I think this may well have been a hall in Crimea: one of the many which were later in use for meetings of workers after the Revolution, many of whom visited the Crimea periodically for rest and relaxation!


        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one strange photo. The expressions on many of the faces are almost disturbing; they look like photos I’ve seen of prisoners of war. I want to say, “Blink three times if you need help.”

    The priest’s garb looks to be Anglican, and the large cross the woman might also be a Nicene cross, with the four equal arms representing the four Gospels. It’s the same cross that appears on the British St. Edward’s crown. Also, it appears that the bottom of the crown is trimmed with ermine, suggested a European provenance.

    On the other hand, that large cross might also be a Bolnisi cross, a famous symbol of Georgia. With Orthodoxy the predominant religion in Georgia, I can’t quite figure out the priest, but there’s a lot I can’t figure out about this one. It’s a fascinating group, for sure.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interestingly, the ermine trim along the bottom of St. Edward’s Crown has spots on it, but when it appears in the monogram of Elizabeth II, it has arrows like the ones above (in reverse direction). The arrows must mean something.

      The matriarch’s large cross should be identifiable, so I may focus on that. I’m better with faces than with crosses, though. Regarding the sitters’ expressions, they look more bored to me than unhappy. Maybe they just wanted to get back to the party!


  3. I’m intrigued by the backdrop which looks tropical with palmetto-like plants making me think this is from a colony with Europeans living there posing for the photo perhaps for family abroad.

    Acting on this assumption i looked for colonial flags with a crown and found that the imperial crown of England between 1877 and 1901, such as is found on the Victoria, Australia flag of that period, is more or less the same shape and style as the blurred and alas black and white crown in the picture.
    If this photo was taken in the British colonies during that time period, I doubt it was Australia, since the plants seem too lush for such an arid climate.

    This links to the flag I mentioned. https://www.crwflags.com/FOTW/flags/au-vic.html#crowns

    There were so many british colonies in those years even in the Caribbean, which i suspect because the plants appear so similar to those in Florida (which stopped being a British colony of 20 years in1783, so too early fora photograph like this!

    Or alternatively, it may just be a wishful backdrop!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating picture. There seems to be some family resemblances between some of the participants, however, not the same family. Some prominent noses suggest relationships to each other. In others, there is similarities in the eyes and mouth. At least I think so, but what do I know. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I further note what looks like a piano and chair back behind the flora suggesting a raised platform concealed there. I believe the first upright pianos were developed in the early 1780’s. Also, upon closer inspection of the priest, I think that he also could be a blood relative, perhaps a son who entered the priesthood.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interesting photo! One of the men is very similar to Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Of course it’s not him)). In your amazingly interesting photos, I always see something special)
    Happy New Year!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it’s a musical party at some Embassy. People’s faces are reminiscent of Eastern Europe..
    Your photos, as always, are mysterious and beautiful. I hope in the new year we will enjoy them even more often!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great image as usual – this site is a consistently good read.

    I suggest they may be a Maltese noble family, based on their vaguely Mediterranean appearance and the jewelled cross. Apparently there were 32 recognised noble families on the island. The Crown I take to be unrelated, part of the fixtures of the hired hall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Michael, and for your excellent suggestion. Malta is certainly worth looking into. About the crown, it occurred to me as well that it might be connected to the hall rather than to this particular family. Perhaps the hall was used for official functions? I feel quite certain someone will identify this group eventually. Thank you again! Brad


  9. If the photographers name had been on a matt it may have been doable to narrow down the time frame. There are many lists out there of when photographers were in business . Sometimes they imprinted the mats with the city as well. I think you already know that though. A nice mystery to solve.

    Liked by 1 person

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