On Thursday, 19 November, The Princess Royal, in her role as honourary vice president of the Royal Geographical Society, will open an exhibition called “The Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley,” which celebrates the centenary of the Imperial Trans-Atlantic Expedition.
The Royal Geographical Society was founded in 1830 under the name Geographical Society of London, during the reign of King William IV. He gave the Society royal status in its first year and acted as its first royal patron. Later, his niece, Queen Victoria, gave the Society its royal charter in 1859.
The monarchy is inextricably linked with the Royal Geography Society: every reigning monarch has acted as the Society’s royal patron.
In addition to the Princess Royal’s honourary vice presidency, the Duke of Kent acts as its honourary president. He succeeded his mother, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent as honourary president. The Prince of Wales and Prince Michael of Kent have collaborated with the Society as well.
The Society started as a dinner club where members would discuss scientific issues and moved into an official headquarters in 1913. In its earlier years, the Society was “allied…with ‘colonial’ exploration of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the polar regions, and central Asia.”
According to its website, the Society exists for the “advancement of geographical science” and has supported plenty of research in its 185-year history. Some of the explorers who have been supported by the Society include Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, and William Ogilvie. Today there is as much focus on education as there is on research and expedition endeavours.
The Enduring Eye focuses on the attempt by Sir Ernest Shackleton to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. Frank Hurley, the photographer for the expedition, saved his glass plate negatives from the ice and selected images will be seen for the first time during this exhibition.
Shackleton’s expedition was besieged with problems, including the ship, the Endurance, sinking into the Weddell Sea and harrowing rescues. Ultimately it turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt, and it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Antarctic continent was successfully navigated.
The exhibition opens Saturday, 21 November and runs until 28 February 2016.
Do you plan to attend the exhibition? Are you a member of the Royal Geographical Society? I’m new here at Royal Central, so let’s chat in the comments!