Vivat Regina

On September 10, 2015, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest-reigning British sovereign in history, exceeding the tenure of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901 for a total of 63 years and 216 days. Elizabeth, at age 89, is already the oldest monarch to have occupied the throne, and if she lives as long as her own mother did (who died in 2002 at age 101), we may celebrate the first ever platinum jubilee in 2027.

To mark this auspicious occasion a new portrait of the Her Majesty has been unveiled. It was commissioned by Illustrated London News Ltd (ILN), collaborating with The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) and the Royal Warrant Holders Association. It was painted by 28-year-old portrait artist Alisdair Barford, a QEST and Leverhulme Scholar, who had just completed his scholarship at the renowned atelier of artist Charles H. Cecil in Florence. According to the Daily Mail the artist “was given just 10 minutes to make his preparatory sketches for what was his first commission.”

It’s quite nice, but perhaps the speed at which Mr. Barford had to work explains the fact that HM’s Garter star is shown rotated ninety degrees to the left. Or maybe there is an artistic reason for this detail, who knows? Is he suggesting that the Queen is tipping over, parallel to the way that artist Nelson Shanks inserted a Lewinsky reference in Bill Clinton’s official portrait? This is certainly something that Stephanie Trigg would have included in Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (2012).