Harrogate curator's Prince William moment at awards ceremony

Harrogate art curator Jane Sellars after receiving the MBE at Buckingham Palace.
Harrogate art curator Jane Sellars after receiving the MBE at Buckingham Palace.

A Harrogate art curator has been talking about the moment Prince William presented her with the MBE.

Writer, arts historian and curator Jane Sellars received the royal honour last week for services to the arts and to the community in the North of England.

On the day of the investiture by the Duke of Cambridge, Jane said nothing could prepare her for the experience of arriving at at Buckingham Palace.

She said: “Meticulously worded instructions came from St James’s Palace where the investitures are organised with military precision.

“I was terrified that we would be late but made it on time.

“But there’s nothing quite as extraordinary as arriving in a taxi in front of Buckingham Palace and being surrounded by armed police, showing ID and then being allowed to walk into the quadrangle in front of the palace and through the door.”

Appointed curator of arts projects for Harrogate by Harrogate Borough Council in 2003, Jane rose to become Curator of Cultural Services in 2014.

Several of the exhibitions she curated at Harrogate’s publically-owned Mercer Gallery proved blockbuster successes, in particular, William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age in 2007, and Art in Yorkshire: From Turner to Hockney in 2014.

When she stepped forward to receive the MBE from the Duke of Cambridge, she said they had a good chat about, what else, art.

Jane said: “There’s a specially appointed Air Force Officer who stands to await you as you take the first steps towards the stage where Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge was presenting the honours.

“He makes you feel relaxed. The conversation was really informal as we talked about his study of the history of art and I thanked the Royal Collection for agreeing to lend a major Victorian painting for an exhibition next year.

"Afterwards there were official photographs taken in the courtyard outside as a cold wind swirled around us and my hat blew off! It was a wonderful day."

Jane stepped down from her Harrogate role earlier in the year. Her final big show will be another blockbuster - William Powell Frith: The People’s Painter in 2019, the bicentenary of the artist’s birth.

Jane started her career at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool where she was an education officer after a degree in Art History and a spell of teaching in secondary schools.

She then moved on to be director of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth before becoming principal curator at Harewood House.

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