Cambridge University

Ax:son Johnson Centre for the Study of Classical Architecture

Royalty and Architecture

Architecture, Jacob Gole,  1670–1724. Engraving,  25 × 18 cm. Rijksmuseum,  Amsterdam.

Royalty and Architecture

Visions and Ambitions of European Monarchs and Nobility

18 March 2024

Hatfield house, england


It is well known that, throughout history, kings and queens have commissioned castles, palaces, and even entire cities, to showcase their power. Less consideration has been given, however, to monarchs whose interests in architecture were so close that they might actually be called architects. 

Recent research on King Gustav III of Sweden (1746–92) reveals that he was in fact the architect of a number of important building projects and gardens. Similarly, a relative of the Swedish royal, His Majesty King George III of Great Britian (1760–1820) was knowledgeable in the field and a skilled draughtsman. In this seminar, leading international scholars delve into the engagement of these and other European monarchs in addition to members of the nobility with architectural practice from the 17th century to present day. 

Architecture, Jacob Gole, 1670–1724. Engraving, 25 × 18 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
King Gustav III of Sweden and his Brothers, Alexander Roslin, 1771. Oil on canvas, 162 × 203cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.


11:30   Welcome address: Kurt Almqvist, President 

11:35    Moderator: Svante Tirén 

11:40   Introduction: Clive Aslet and Frank Salmon 


Session I: Absolutist beginnings in Church and State  

11:45    Elisabeth Kieven: ‘Make haste!’ Designing with Bernini

12:00  Ian Thompson: ‘Details about everything’. Louis XIV and the

  Creation of Versailles

12:15  Simon Thurley: James II at Whitehall. Patron, Priests and Proselytising 

12:45  Lunch 


Session II: Dividers and Rulers – the Kings Who Could Draw  

14:00  Frank Salmon: ‘Other Princes have the pride of building, your Majesty has the science’. King George III

14:15  Magnus Olausson: Gustav III of Sweden as a Gardening Lord

14:30  Jarl Kremeier: König Friedrich Wilhelm IV von Preussen’s Architectural   Visions and Perspectives 

14:45  Panel discussion  

15:00  Break 


Session III: Monarchs with Clear Views  

15:15  Emily Roy: Paul I and Maria Feodorovna: Patronage for Pleasure and Politics

15:30  Barbara Arciszewska: ‘Quaesivit coelo lucem’. King Stanisław August Poniatowski and Architecture

15:45  Rebecca Lyons: ‘You will not think me a bad architect’. George IV and the Presentation of Monarchy

16:00  Panel discussion  

16:15  Afternoon tea 


Session IV: Princes of Modernity in Building  

16:45  Julius Bryant: Prince Albert: Architect?

17:00  Clive Aslet: King Charles III and Architecture. His Years as Prince of Wales

17:15  John Goodall: Architecture and the Enactment of Monarchy 

17:30  Panel Discussion

17:45  Moderator’s closing thoughts


18:00    Drinks, reception & dinner

For more information on the text published by Bokförlaget Stolpe see: