Amazing footage of Queen Victoria has been unearthed after being discarded for decades in an archive at a New York museum.
It shows the monarch being greeted by dignitaries on a trip to Ireland in 1900 just one year before she died in what is believed to be the last time she was caught on camera.
In the crisp black and white footage, Victoria, who appears to be wearing sunglasses, smiles as she is handed a huge basket of flowers by two girls, who curtsy as they approach her.
She is also seen holding an umbrella which she seems to be using to shade herself from the sun.
The film was discovered by British Film Institute curator Bryony Dixon at the New York Museum of Modern Art, who said she was stunned when she came across it.
Ms Dixon said: ‘I nearly fell off my chair because I’d never seen Victoria in close-up before.
‘It is completely unique because you can see the Queen’s face for the first time properly since 1900, since this was shown.. …you can see her expressions, you can see her in movement, rather than just as a stiff portrait or a still photograph.’
She added it the footage ‘humanises’ the monarch because it shows her smiling instead of the stoic expression she often displayed in official portraits throughout her 63-year reign.
Ms Dixon said: ‘It’s very rare to see her smiling. She doesn’t in any of her portraits, so it humanises her, I think, for the first time.’
She added: ‘Queen Victoria was always very up to date with technology and she was interested in art.
‘She was interested in photography in particular so here, instead of a posed photo or painting, we see her in movement.’
The smiling footage comes as a new exhibition on the Isle of Wight has also highlighted the ‘stiff and proper’ monarch’s softer side.
English Heritage are highlighting the nude sculptures and a painting of bathing maidens which Victoria and Prince Albert gave each other in a display at Osborne House, the couple’s palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of their births.
The researchers say it proves the pair shared a ‘passionate’ private life despite their prim public personas.
Michael Hunter, curator at Osborne, said: ‘Queen Victoria may be remembered as the mourning widow in black, but these gifts show a different side to her personality.
‘She was open to nudity and the sensuous, more open than Albert who perhaps surprisingly was the more prudish of the pair.’
For example, Victoria bought artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s Florinda, a painting of semi-nude women preparing to bathe, for one of Albert’s birthdays, and it was her wish that it should hang directly opposite their writing desks at Osborne, where it remains today.
And when Albert commissioned a statue of himself as a Greek warrior for Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1844, she wrote in her journal that it was ‘very beautiful’.
Victoria was born in 1819 to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III.
Both the Duke and the King died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.
She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father’s three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children.
Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840 and they had nine children.
They married their offspring into royal and noble families across the continent, earning Victoria the nickname ‘the grandmother of Europe’.
But after Albert’s death in 1861, she retreated from public appearances and became known for wearing black and living in mourning.
However she remained popular throughout her reign and had Golden and Diamond Jubilees that saw huge public celebrations.
She was the longest-serving monarch in the UK at 63 years and seven months until Queen Elizabeth II broke the record in September 2015.
Queen Victoria died in January 1901 and was succeeded by her eldest son, Edward VII.
Was Victoria 30 years ahead of her time with her sunglasses? How the Queen wore tinted lenses later in life after developing sensitivity to the sun
One of the most striking parts of the Queen Victoria footage is that the monarch appears to be wearing sunglasses during her trip to Dublin in 1900
But the shades we know today did not become popular until the 1930s after American Sam Foster first mass produced celluloid sunglasses in 1929.
Experts say Queen Victoria was actually wearing spectacles with tinted lenses because she developed sensitivity to the sun in her later years.
A BFI spokesperson said: ‘Queen Victoria developed bad sun sensitivity and in all the footage seen of her in her old age she is always seen under a parasol to protect herself. But most of the footage of her that exists is grainy and this is the first time we’ve been able to see her clearly enough to see the glasses.
‘They are not the sunglasses we know but rather lenses that were tinted to shield her eyes.’
This early form of sunglasses had actually been in circulation since the 1700s after scientists experimented with tinted lenses.
18th century optician and scientist James Ayscough began producing spectacles with blue and green lenses in the 1750s, believing they could correct vision problems.
By the 1800s, brown-tinted lenses were becoming common to protect sensitive eyes, particularly among wealthy elderly people.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Joseph Curtis