Lennon's American photographer produces stunning portrait of the Queen

The Queen at 81, just like her mother

2nd May 2007

She made her name photographing rock and roll royalty.

But given the assignment of capturing genuine royalty on film, Annie Leibovitz faced a new challenge.

So she wisely turned to the past for inspiration. And the portrait of the Queen which resulted is a striking study of serenity.

Beaton's portrait of the Queen Mother (left) and Leibovitz's similar picture of her daughter the Queen

Published for the first time today ahead of the Queen’s state visit to the U.S., the picture bears an uncanny resemblance to the work of Cecil Beaton.

Beaton, the Queen Mother’s favourite photographer, was renowned for the way he placed his subjects in regal surroundings yet managed to capture their human side.

Portrait of a monarch: The atmospheric picture of the Queen taken by Anne Leibovitz in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace

Miss Leibovitz chose to seat her subject in the opulent White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen’s pale gold brocade dress, white fur stole and magnificent collection of jewellery emphasise her status — the diamond tiara was a wedding present for her grandmother, Queen Mary, while her pearl drop earrings were given to Queen Victoria (her great-great-grandmother) when she was 19.

The way in which she gazes wistfully out of the window across the palace gardens, however, hints at a gentler, more fallible side.

That essence of humanity is emphasised by the atmospheric lighting and storm clouds gathering outside.

At a recent palace reception Miss Leibovitz, who is perhaps best known for her photograph of a naked John Lennon hugging a fully-clothed Yoko Ono, admitted Beaton was an inspiration.

"I like tradition. Cecil Beaton’s pictures — they’re very important to me," she said.

Of her own photograph, which was commissioned to mark the Queen’s six-day trip to the U.S., she added: "I feel like it’s a documentation and want to take a very simple portrait."


She looks wonderful, this woman has given Britain her whole life, I think she is out of this world as a person and a queen.

- Linda, (USA)


Outstanding portrait! We look forward to having Queen Elizabeth here to celebrate the Kentucky Derby with us.

Welcome and enjoy!

- Anne R, Elizabethtown, Kentucky


A grand portrait of a grand lady. God bless her.

- H. William Winstanley, Runcorn, Cheshire


This is a perfect photograph of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She is a figure to look up to and represent the United Kingdom, Head of the Commonwealth. I am looking forward to her visit to USA. The history of USA has many links with UK and are our distant cousins.

- Geraldine Caruana, Chatham, UK


The Queen looks absolutely beautiful in this photograph. Every bit as regal and elegant as a Queen should be!

- Amy, Lancaster County, PA, USA


Your Majesty look's stunning and much credit to Ms.Leivobitz and her incredible gift of photography...

- Vonda Millar, New York, New York

Gee, a nice picture of a rich old woman who owes everything she's done, and everything she's got, to simple, corrupt inherited privilege. Big freaking deal. Give everything back to the people and go get a job.

That is a stunningly rich and beautiful picture. Look at the background details and colours....a really well done photograph.
Libra Girl
Whilst it pains me once again to have to agree with Pangloss, I do. However, one must remember that she ( the queen) was born into that cycle of circumstance and priviledge. She knows no other way of life, has not, nor ever will, experience what it is like to live as a normal human being. She cannot change the way her life runs, nor abdicate, yet she knows the writing is on the wall for the future of the monarchy. Let's let her bow out gracefully.
Last edited by Libra Girl; May 2nd, 2007 at 06:18 PM..

You're right - but she had all her life to realize what she was doing was unjust, and yet she stayed. I'd have more respect for her if she worked to abolish the monarchy and the entire inherited honours system.

I wonder, do they really live in palaces like Buckingham Palace? And do they feel comfortable in such interiors? Don't they ever get lost among all those pictures and furniture? I, a simple girl from an ex-Communist country, understand that not
It really is a nice portrait - very well done.
Liebovitz does wonderful work. She is an amazingly talented photographer.
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