Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II - from the longest ever reign

At around 5.30pm today, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the UK's longest serving monarch - passing the record previously held by Queen Victoria.  Her reign will have lasted 23,226 days 16 hours and 23 minutes

Or 63 years plus 16 leap days - during which she has outlasted 12 different Prime Ministers!

The image of the Queen is iconic. Her face has been seen around the world by more people than any other Monarch.

Naturally there have been rather a lot of portraits of the Queen during her 63 year reign. In fact, well over 150 official portraits have been painted during her reign by artists she has given access to. That works out at sitting down at least twice a year during her reign to be painted by yet another portrait painter!

To celebrate this event the Royal Society of Portrait Painters have published a sample of portraits of the Queen painted by their members. You can a small selection below - and more on their website - along with the stories behind the portraits.

HM The Queen (1996) by Anthony Williams RP PS NEAC
egg tempera
Antony carried out the commission as part of the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture, which he won in 1995.

Royal Family (2000) by John Wonnacott Hon RP CBE
This is a preparatory drawing made for the 11+ foot portrait of the Royal Family
commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate the
100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
The complete set of drawings were purchased by a friend of the Royal Family (after an exhibition at Agnews)
and now hang at Highgrove, the family home of the Prince of Wales

HM The Queen by Andrew Festing PPRP OBE
Commissioned in 1991
 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Military Academy

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by David Poole PPRP ARCA

More about the longest reign in UK History

Portraiture is one way of recording history - and today is very definitely a momentous day in the history of the UK.

Here are some of the articles in the British Papers celebrating the event which might interest you.

How do you calculate the longest reign?

The reign is calculated from the death of the previous King or Queen until the death of their successor. However in calculating the length of reign account needs to be taken of leap years.

  • Queen Victoria reigned from 20th June 1837 until 22 January 1901 - a reign of 63 years and 217 days. 
  • The reign of Queen Elizabeth II began on the death of her father on 6th February 1952. After allowing for the different number of leap years in their respective reigns, the calculation is that the present Queen achieves the longest reign at around 5.30pm on 9th September 2015.

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