He’s snapped the king of the big screen, Johnny Depp, and the king of rock and roll, Mick Jagger, but now legendary photographer David Bailey has turned his lens on the Queen of England to mark her 88th birthday.
Bailey, who describes himself as a “big fan” of the Queen, was commissioned to take the black-and-white portrait as part of the British government’s GREAT Britain campaign. The initiative aims to highlight the UK as an epicentre for tourism, investment, trade and education to potential visitors from abroad. The government hopes that this will generate new jobs and economic growth.
As a London-based photographer, with 50 years experience photographing the world’s A-list, it seems that Bailey was an obvious choice to snap the monarch . “Bailey’s name was suggested by Number 10 and the GREAT campaign and the Queen agreed,” said a Buckingham Palace spokesperson. “The Queen agreed to sit for it in recognition of the work of the GREAT campaign.”
Bailey’s works have become so iconic, that he is now almost as famous as the subjects he photographs. However, while he has snapped other royals including Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II will no-doubt be among his most memorable sitters. “She has very kind eyes with a mischievous glint,” said 76-year-old Bailey, who made a name for himself in the 1960s – an era overflowing with art and fashion. “I’ve always liked strong women and she is a very strong woman,” he added.
Queen Elizabeth sat for the photograph in March at Buckingham Palace, wearing a simple dress by Angela Kelly, who has been her personal assistant and senior dresser since 2002. Her jewellery was every bit as decedent as you’d expect – a large pearl brooch surrounded by diamonds and a pearl pendant that was passed down by her grandmother, a 19th century Duchess of Cambridge.
Though the Queen’s birthday is a cause for celebration, it won’t be the only day Her Majesty will get to blow out the candles this year. She’s one of the lucky few with two birthdays – her birth date is April 21 and is celebrated privately, while her official birthday is marked publicly in June with a Trooping The Colour parade in London.
Looking at the photograph, it’s hard to believe that Queen Elizabeth, who has eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren, was born in 1926. We don’t know what cream she’s using, but we need some of that.
Image: David Bailey / WPA Pool/Getty Images