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Francis Bedford (1815-1894) by an unknown photographer
Probably London, about 1856
© The Wellcome Library (No. 14933i) 
Mr. Francis Bedford has been appointed to accompany his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in his tour through the East, for the purpose of taking photographic views of the landscapes, figures, and architecture of the various remarkable places that may be visited.’

Court Circular, 5 February 1862

Francis Bedford (1815-1894) began his career in London as a commercial printer and lithographer with the publishers Day and Son Ltd. He began experimenting with photography, becoming a founding member of the Photographic Society in 1853. Bedford specialised in landscape and architectural photography.



The Royal Family took a growing interest in the new medium. They became aware of Bedford’s talent at the Royal Photographic Society’s first public exhibition in 1854. Soon afterwards, Queen Victoria commissioned Bedford to take photographs of the German towns of Coburg and Gotha, where Prince Albert had spent his childhood. This established Bedford’s career-defining professional relationship with the Royal Family.
Francis Bedford (1815-1894)
The Baptistry of Canterbury Cathedral, 1855
Canterbury, 1855
Albumen print, 232 x 176 mm

This photo was acclaimed in 1857 as ‘a gem, perfect in execution, and of those “choice bits” which the true artist appears so frequently to stumble upon … picturesque in every part.’
Photographic Notes, 1857

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020
The pinnacle of Bedford’s career was his involvement with the Prince of Wales’s travels in 1862 – he was the first photographer to accompany a royal tour. A selection of his photographs was published by Day and Son and successfully exhibited at the German Gallery, London, later that year. Bedford would take on further commissions for other institutions, such as photographing works of art for the British Museum. But the key benefit of the tour to Bedford was reputational. For the rest of his life, Bedford proudly stamped his cartes-de-visite ‘Photographer to the Prince of Wales’. Lavishly bound albums of Bedford’s photographs commissioned by the Royal Family are still in the Royal Collection.

Below is a video provided by the Royal Collection Trust which explains the wet collodion photographic process used by Francis Bedford while touring with the prince. As a process it had only been invented in the 1850s, just over 10 years before it was used by Bedford during the Royal Tour with such skill