In a royal first, Queen Elizabeth II became a part of a virtual unveiling of a self-portrait that happened via a video call on July 25, 2020. Painted by Miriam Escofet, the portrait was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a “lasting tribute to Her Majesty’s service” to diplomacy, The Guardian reports. The report also mentions that upon seeing the portrait, the Queen even pointed out jokingly how the tea cup placed on the table next to her was actually empty.
The painting was shown to the Queen for the first time on a computer screen, amid the restrictions in the country because of the pandemic, after which she spoke to the members of FCO about their work during the coronavirus health crisis.
According to The Guardian, this virtual unveiling was hosted by Sir Simon McDonald, who is the permanent under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, and head of the Diplomatic Service. He had joined the artist for the unveiling. Interestingly, Escofet informed the Queen that she had included a hidden symbol in the painting — the insignia of the FCO — which was found to be painted on a tea cup.
“She seemed to react very positively to it. She was smiling, asking how long it took and if I had any more projects on the go after this. When I explained certain elements of the painting, the tea cup, she made some amusing comments. She said: ‘but there’s no tea in the cup’,” Escofet was quoted as saying.
“I really wanted to catch that essence of her in the portrait. That’s a quality that you only really feel when you meet someone. She’s a very powerful, small person, and quite luminous. You can feel this life energy from her, it’s very striking. That became very useful for me because it meant I could get almost an aura of regalness around her in what was actually trying to be a very humane portrait of her,” she added.
It took Escofet seven months to complete the painting, with its final stages being done in the lockdown. For this, she had two sittings with the Queen – one in Windsor where she spent her time photographing her, and the other at Buckingham Palace, wherein she focused on the monarch’s facial expressions.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines