Questions raised over status of royal collection – the last European royal art collection still mostly in hands of sovereign

Buckingham Palace’s picture gallery contains some of the greatest paintings of western civilisation: 16th-century Titians, 17th-century Rembrandts, as well as works by Rubens and Van Dyck, and that rare thing, a Vermeer. Also on display are some of the most spectacular Canaletto vistas of 18th-century Venice.

It is a fine collection to have on the walls if you are member of the royal family. But access is far more limited for the public.

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