The Queen is depicted in previously unpublished image found in renowned Dutch photographer's archive

Victoria Ward
·2-min read
The Queen and Prince Philip, captured at a banquet in The Hague in 1958 by Ed van der Elsken - Rijksmuseum Staeske Rebers
The Queen and Prince Philip, captured at a banquet in The Hague in 1958 by Ed van der Elsken - Rijksmuseum Staeske Rebers

A never-before-seen image of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh by a leading Dutch photographer has been published for the first time after being kept by his widow for almost 30 years.

The black and white picture captures the royal couple during a state visit to the Netherlands in March 1958, when the Queen, wearing Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik Tiara, was just 31.

Surrounded by photographers and dignitaries, they are shown chatting with Queen Juliana of the Netherlands at a banquet at the Ridderzaal in The Hague.

The image was taken by Ed van der Elsken, deemed one of the leading street photographers of the 20th century. It is thought to be the only one of his pictures of the Queen ever to have been made public.

Van der Elsken died in 1990 and for almost three decades, his widow Anneke Hilhorst looked after his estate at their wooden house on IJsselmeerdijk in Edam.  

But late last year, she decided to transfer the estate to the Rijksmuseum and the Nederlands Fotomuseum, allowing curators to begin a lengthy research project into his archive, comprising 11,000 objects.

The design mock-up for a never-published photobook found in the estate of Ed van der Elsken - Rijksmuseum Staeske Rebers
The design mock-up for a never-published photobook found in the estate of Ed van der Elsken - Rijksmuseum Staeske Rebers

One of many surprises was a mock-up design of a photography book called feest, that Van der Elsken had compiled in roughly the same period that he was working on his famed magnum opus Sweet Life. 

It largely comprises early and recent photographs from his archive and features several  never-before-seen photographs, including the one of the Queen.

Others published for the first time include photographs taken in the 1950s and beginning of the 1960s in Amsterdam.

It is not known why the book, containing 134 images, was never published or for how long Van der Elsken had worked on it. 

The book has now been made available through a partnership between the Rijksmuseum and the Nederlands Fotomuseum.

Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, said: “Ed van der Elsken gained international renown thanks in particular to his photobooks. 

"This makes the discovery of feest all the more remarkable. feest captures an era, from the 1950s to the early 60s. You see extremes: from funfairs to state visits, from smiles to tears. You see people connecting and people letting go. Most of all, you see what it is that brings people together."