‘What I had to ask the Queen’: Artist recalls six words he was ordered to say to late monarch for Diamond Jubilee portrait


LONDON, UK: Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans has revealed the six words he had to say to Queen Elizabeth II before painting her famous Diamond Jubilee portrait.


The Queen granted Heimans an hour-long sitting at Buckingham Palace after he was asked to paint her portrait in 2012. The Sydney native, who now resides in south London with his wife and daughters, told The Project in a segment on Tuesday, September 13. , “There was a term I was told to use that was quite remarkable. It was, ‘Can I take control now, ma’am? start the session.”



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The Australian-born artist said: “I couldn’t believe that was what I had to say and, in the moment, I couldn’t bring myself to say those words. It’s like say, ‘Can I take over the country? He claimed the queen wore the robe of state, which required four people to help her carry it due to her weight. He said: “I wanted to paint the queen in an introspective mood, but it’s a bit difficult to explain that you’d like her to look a bit dark.” He added: “I found there was some resistance from palace staff that day and the Queen’s dresser was quite adamant she should look up and look quite cheerful .”


The Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II has been hailed by many (Adrian Dennis – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The largest official portrait of Her Majesty is the painting entitled “The Coronation Theatre”. Heimans said it was twice the size of anything he had tackled before, but the scale is relevant to the impact of the work. He said: “I wanted the viewer to feel like they were standing in the presence of the Queen, to feel like they were right in front of her. She has this amazing aura. She’s a bit hard to see behind the mask but what I was impressed with was this sense of humility she had which really influenced the painting.”


He claimed to have worked 20 hours a day for six months between the shoot and the unveiling. He said: “If you take an x-ray of my painting, you’ll see there are a lot of different ideas that I tried and painted over and over because it felt like it lived and breathed like the queen herself. It was a real struggle with the canvas.”

The historic coronation site of Westminster Abbey – where the portrait now stands – serves as the backdrop for the painting, and Heimans was granted two nights alone in the much-loved church. He said, “It’s where she was crowned on that central circle on the Cosmati pavement, which is that incredible mosaic on the high altar where the throne is placed.” He added: “The crown aligns with this central circle on the ground to give the monarch divine power. This is the epicenter of the British monarchy. Because you never see the Queen alone in public. was an imaginary moment to combine the seance and the an abbey.”



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