“Ladies and gentlemen, we are fortunate indeed to be in the first generation in nearly 370 years, to appreciate them as my ancestors once did.”So thank you, all of you, for all the part you have played in making this great exhibition possible.”The exhibition contains 140 items, around 90 of which have come from the Royal Collection.As well as the star Van Dyck, the Musee du Louvre, which had direct contact with the Prince of Wales’ office, also offered Titian’s Supper at Emmaus (c1534) and Conjugal Allegory (c1530-35). Titian, The Supper at Emmaus, c.1530 Those key works were taken down from the walls of State Apartments at Windsor Castle, from Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, to be assembled under one roof at the Royal Academy.With that example, and the support of chairman of the Royal Collection Prince Charles, galleries one-by-one agreed to the Royal Academy borrowing some “absolutely crucial, central works”.Of the scope of the exhibition, Desmond-Shawe added: “This has never happened before and never will again. This is a really, really exceptional moment.”The show is intended to give the British public, and the Academy’s overseas visitors, their deepest insight yet into Charles I’s 1,500-strong painting collection, which was sold off piecemeal after his death to collectors and, in some notorious cases, given to tradesmen to pay off debts. It is considered a unique opportunity for the widest audience possible to see the works together and understand the influence it had on English artists including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Constable and Turner centuries later. Van Dyck’s Charles I Rumberg said the idea to reassemble the lost collection of Charles I was not new, but had previously been considered an “exhibition of dreams” that would never happen.”The rather brave idea for this show was to make the impossible possible,” he said, explaining that the difficulty lay not only in finding works painted in Charles I’s day, but also the Renaissance paintings he had brought to England for the first time. “Curators for generations have been keen to do this,” he added. “It’s easy to dream it up, much harder to realise.” Charles I: King and Collector runs until April 15. ‘Charles I in the Hunting Field’, 1636 The show was commissioned to celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts, envisioned as “The Great Exhibition” spectacular enough to mark its anniversary. The Prince of Wales with curators Desmond Shawe-Taylor (left) and Per Rumberg (right) Credit:PA Over years of concerted effort, curators Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the Queen’s pictures, and Per Rumberg visited European galleries in person to persuade directors to loan their most precious paintings, many of which have never travelled to Britain before.Shawe-Taylor said more than 80 works had been loaned from the Royal Collection to the exhibition with the “absolutely characteristic generosity” and permission of the Queen. “Without the Prince of Wales’ support that particular loan may not have happened. Without his support, and the works from the Royal Collection, this exhibition could have never happened.” Anthony van Dyck, Queen Henrietta Maria with Sir Jeffrey Hudson, 1633 Le Brun, who said the Charles I exhibition was the “perfect” way to celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy, added the passionate support of the arts from the Prince of Wales and the Queen was “particularly pleasing”.”The fact that we had the support of the Prince of Wales was enormously helpful in encouraging our fellow institutions to see how serious we are about the exhibition, how beautifully they [loaned paintings] would be shown, and how carefully we would look after them.” Speaking at the Royal Academy on Monday night, the Prince of Wales gave no indication that his support had helped.He told assembled luminaries: ” I suspect many of us must have longed to be time travellers back to the 17th century just to glimpse for a brief moment this great collection, but now thanks to the heroic efforts of all those involved in this overwhelmingly lovely exhibition we are able to get a real idea of what King Charles I was aiming to do in bringing to these shores for the first time some of the greatest works of art in existence. In 1623, the young Prince of Wales began what would become arguably the greatest art collection ever assembled by an English king.By 1649, at the end of his doomed reign as Charles I, he saw his paintings for the last time as he walked to the scaffold, his treasures scattered to the winds of Europe, some never to be seen on English soil again. More than 350 years later, the Royal Academy has achieved the seemingly impossible: reuniting the stars of Charles I’s collection with a helping hand from no less than the current Prince of Wales.The Prince, the chairman of the honorary exhibition committee who has lent his quiet support behind the scenes, last night saw the fruits of curators’ labour in person, as he became the first member of the Royal Family to view the works in the same building since Charles I himself.Photographed in front of Van Dyck’s nine-foot-high Le Roi à la chasse, or Charles I in the Hunting Field, he was hailed by curators for his invaluable help in persuading major foreign galleries to loan their star paintings, including dialogue with the Louvre to help secure that particular work. Saying that “usually you wouldn’t even ask for one of these” major loans, he said the finished exhibition included five extraordinary works from the Prado, three from the Louvre and others from down the road at the National Gallery.”Luckily they all understood the unique opportunity to bring these works together,” he said. Rumberg described the Prince of Wales as a “very helpful supportive figure in the background” as the collection was slowly reassembled, with his office in direct contact with the President of the Louvre over Charles I in the Hunting Field. “That was for us the key work, the most important and most moving picture that Van Dyck painted of Charles I,” he said. The Prince of Wales is presented with a book during his viewing of the Charles I: King and Collector Credit:PA Prince Charles spent 30 minutes having a private tour of the worksCredit:PA Titian’s Charles V with a Dog (1533) and Van Dyck’s Hendrik van den Bergh are being loaned by the Prado, along with items from the Frick, NY, and National Gallery of Art in Washington.Many other works, including Van Dyck’s Charles in Three Positions and Rubens’ Landscape with Saint George and the Dragon, come from the Royal Collection, acquired over the years by Kings and Queens. The Prince of Wales is chairman of the Royal Collection Trust, with paintings loaned with permission from the Queen.Numerous loans from private collections include Van Dyck’s Self-portrait with a Sunflower (around 1633), borrowed from of the Duke of Westminster while Britain’s major galleries have also contributed: key works include Rubens’s Apotheosis of James I (1628-30) is loaned by Tate, Van Dyck’s last self-portrait (c1640) by the National Portrait Gallery, and the artist’s Charles I on Horseback, 1637-38 by the National Gallery. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “Thanks to the very great generosity of other lenders, notably the Prado and the Louvre, to whom we are immensely grateful, many outstanding pictures and other works of art form Charles I’s collection have returned, some for the very first time since the 17th century, to add many layers of richness and delight.