Today, Time magazine released a commemorative cover in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, who sadly died on Thursday at the age of 96. The person who photographed the beautiful portrait was none other than Sir Cecil Beaton, a British fashion, portrait, and war photographer.
Per Time, the artist himself died in 1980, although he had a long history of photographing the royals. The magazine noted that his images were “simultaneously grandiose and intimate, [and] helped to mold the image of the monarchy in the mid-1900s.” He went on to cultivate a longstanding friendship with Queen Elizabeth II, serving as the photographer du jour who captured her coronation in 1953 and the births of all four of her children, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.
In fact, that friendship began back when the late Queen was a child and Cecil was first invited by Queen Elizabeth I to photograph the royal family around 1939. According to Time, the photographer wrote the following in his diary once he was given the esteemed honor: “In choosing me to take her photographs, the Queen made a daring innovation. It is inconceivable that her predecessor would have summoned me—my work was still considered revolutionary and unconventional.”
The magazine said the following of the spotlight story on the recently deceased Queen: “The image on the cover of this issue marks the last photograph that Beaton took of Queen Elizabeth II, in the summer of 1968, when she was 42. In it, the Queen wears the Admiral’s Boat Cloak against a blue backdrop, a powerful and simple image often regarded as timeless. Beaton aimed for the series of portraits to which this one belonged to be ‘stark and clear and bold’—and most observers in the ensuing decades would deem him successful.”
It also mused on the importance of the distinct border that accompanies the image: “On the cover, Beaton’s photograph is bordered by a ribbon of silver, a rare occurrence for Time, which rarely deviates from its iconic red border. The last time the magazine used a silver border for a cover that featured an individual was in 2008, when Barack Obama was named president of the United States.” It’s a cover truly fit for a queen.
Gretty Garcia is the assistant news editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers all things news, entertainment, and pop culture. Before joining Cosmo, Gretty was a social strategist for Mrs. Dow Jones and a features and special projects editor at Editorialist. She holds an MS from the Columbia Journalism School and studied art history at Harvard College.
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