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27 December 2018, 10:52
HM The Queen’s grand piano stole the show during this year’s The Queen’s Speech – here’s the answer to every question you had about the golden musical masterpiece
When the Queen addressed the nation for her traditional Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day at 3pm, the nation were distracted by something in the background.
It wasn’t the family photographs on the desk – instead it was the piano in the background. The instrument was a gilded, painted and varnished Erard grand piano from 1856.
The piano was made by Erard – the French firm whose instruments were famously used by Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn and Wagner. And it was made in 1856, during the reign of Queen Victoria and given to the queen on 30 April 1856.
Victoria and Albert were passionate about music – Mendelssohn was one of the queen’s favourite composers – and the royal couple made sure there was a piano in each of the private apartments in their residences. They played duets together, including arrangements of overtures and symphonies.
This particular piano isn’t exactly a standard model. It’s gilded (decorated with gold leaf) and painted by the miniature painter François Théodore Rochard.
The designs on the piano depict cherubs as well as ‘singeries’ – comical scenes showing monkeys playing musical instruments and generally causing mischief.
This isn't an easy question to answer. There are Erard grand pianos for sale, from around the same period, for around $175,000 (£138,000). But this piano is a one of a kind, hand-painted model. So it would hard to put a price on it!
This piano was intended as a showpiece for the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. And it still manages to get people talking almost two centuries later.