Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond
Model for Britannia

This lady would become, almost by accident, the model for Britannia for over three centuries. She was known as the 'La Belle Stuart' and was the main of honour to Catherine of Braganza during the reign of Charles II. Charles wished to commemorate some of the victories during the Second Anglo-Dutch war and asked if Frances Stuart could pose as the model for a commemorative medal (below). Her face became so synonomous with the legendary Britannia figure that it was copied and modified again and again over the centuries. Her face is still in circulation on the 50 pence piece (below) although Britannia has not been included on newly minted 50ps since 2008. You can listen to a podcast of Britannia from the ODNB here

Symbolic Characters

Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe