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Royal high jinks: Charles and Camilla lookalikes take to the streets

An early coronation parade? 'Charles and Camilla' take to the streets of London
An early coronation parade? 'Charles and Camilla' take to the streets of London Copyright Copyright Mark Thomas
Copyright Copyright Mark Thomas
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Photographer Alison Jackson, known for her spoof photographs of royals in unlikely situations, has launched her latest exhibition with 'Charles' and 'Camilla' taking a pre-coronation carriage ride in London

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It might look like British royals Charles and Camilla have jumped the gun and taken a horse-and-carriage ride along the same route to be taken by the new King and Queen at their coronation on 6 May, but it’s pure artistic trickery.

In fact, it was a stunt by Alison Jackson, renowned for her spoof images of royals and world leaders, including former U.S. president Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The award-winning photographer sent lookalikes to the streets of London last week to launch her new exhibition The Crown, made up of pictures of fake royals, at the Grove Gallery in UK capital. 

Copyright Mark Thomas
A royal ride - lookalikes take a horse-drawn carriage through the English capitalCopyright Mark Thomas

Jackson, who even joined her lookalike couple in the carriage as part of the photoshoot, has spent nearly 25 years exploring the theme of celebrity culture, creating realistic-looking photographs of apparent public figures in private situations - but they’re all really cleverly styled doubles of the celebrities themselves.

Copyright Mark Thomas
Impossibly British - the royal lookalikes pass by a London busCopyright Mark Thomas

Jackson explains that one of her aims is to explore photography as a “deceitful medium”, raising questions while the debate around AI systems producing pictures ‘inspired’ by other artists’ work over what is real and what is fake.

Copyright Mark Thomas
The brains behind the spoof - Alison Jackson joins the fake royalsCopyright Mark Thomas

The Crown exhibition, like much of Jackson’s work, offers an irreverent look at the British royal family ahead of the coronation in situations the general public would never see them in. Euronews Culture takes a look at some of our favourites from the show…

Copyright Alison Jackson
Charles and Camilla behaving badly - lookalikes tuck into burgersCopyright Alison Jackson

While we know a little about Charles and Camilla - their shared love for outdoor pursuits and Charles' passion for classical music and art are widely reported - their lives at home and out of the public eye are shrouded in mystery. This image of the royal couple enjoying burgers on the sofa like most of us do on occasion, adds a little whimsy to the proper image they portray on the world stage.

While corgis were the late Queen Elizabeth's favourite dog breed - Charles and Camilla prefer Jack Russells, owning two rescues Beth and Bluebell.  It's hard not to raise a smile at this image of the royals in aprons, bathing and drying the iconic dogs, complete with Union Jack towels.

Copyright Alison Jackson
Charles and Camilla lookalikes wash corgis using Union Jack towelsCopyright Alison Jackson

While some of Jackson's photographs feature the royals engaged in wholesome activities, some are a whole lot cheekier. Perhaps the most literal interpretation of that is in this image - with Charles and Camilla lookalikes shot from behind, apparently while waving to the public. While they might look like upstanding figureheads to the imagined audience in their regalia, 'Charles' pinching 'Camilla's' bottom is something not many of us are ever likely to see!

Copyright Alison Jackson
Cheeky - a fake Charles pinches 'Camilla's' bottom in this fictional depictionCopyright Alison Jackson

Camilla is widely rumoured to enjoy the occasional drink and cigarette as well as having a little-shown fun side and Jackson has fully taken that idea and run with it here. The soon-to-be Queen Camilla is pictured wearing an impressive crown with a smart shirt and pearls, while enjoying a hard beverage along with an elegantly-held cigarette - but, of course, it's totally fictional.

Copyright Alison Jackson
The fun side of Camilla - the future Queen is imagined smoking and drinking in her crownCopyright Alison Jackson

In another snap of the 'royal couple', Charles and Camilla are seen reading newspapers referring to a 'coronation catfight' and 'guest list drama' next to photographs of Prince William and his wife Kate. While these periodicals are clearly mocked-up, who knows what will make the headlines on 7 May - and if the new King and Queen will be able to avoid glancing over them?

Copyright Alison Jackson
A Charles and Camilla lookalike read similarly fake scandalous headlinesCopyright Alison Jackson

Jackson’s exhibition is also paying tongue-in-cheek tribute to other members of the royal family, imagining what the relationships of the multi-generational dynasty are like behind closed doors. In this photograph, bound to raise a few eyebrows in certain circles, ‘Camilla’ is seen looking bemused at a laughing version of her step daughter-in-law Kate while the pair sneak a look inside the Kama Sutra. Stranger things have happened!

Copyright Alison Jackson
'Camilla' bonds with 'Kate' in this cheeky snapCopyright Alison Jackson

One part of the royal family’s relationships we know perhaps a little too much about, thanks to the tell (almost) all book Spare, is that there is a little tension between Princes William and Harry. While Charles’ youngest son will make the journey to London for the coronation, his wife Meghan is perhaps unsurprisingly, staying put in California. While the brothers have behaved perfectly in public, in a way befitting of royalty, Jackson has imagined them when the eyes of the world are not on them - picturing them in a full-blown fight, possibly over comments made in the controversial book - and literally at each other's throats.

Copyright Alison Jackson
Alison Jackson imagined Princes Harry and William involved in fisticuffsCopyright Alison Jackson

There were years of rumours before Charles became King, suggesting he couldn’t wait to claim his place as monarch and while he hasn’t even been crowned, Jackson portrays Prince William and Kate as already dreaming of the role. 

Copyright Alison Jackson
'Kate' and 'William' drink from mugs emblazoned with their future titlesCopyright Alison Jackson

Seen here drinking from matching ‘king’ and ‘queen’ mugs, the witty image suggests public interest in the royal family will continue long after Saturday's coronation.

The Crown by Alison Jackson runs until 27 May at the Grove Gallery in London.

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