Annie Leibovitz was invited to photograph Queen Elizabeth II twice, in 2007 and in 2016. She was the first American photographer to be asked by the royal family to do so, and considered it an honor. As Leibovitz wrote in her 2008 book At Work, “It was ok for me to be reverent. The British are conflicted about what they think of the monarch. If a British portraitist is reverent he’s perceived to be doting. I could do something traditional.”

The 2007 images are reverent, but the sitting that produced them didn’t go entirely to plan. Leibovitz had wanted to shoot at Windsor Castle, with the queen on horseback. Instead she was given 25 minutes at Buckingham Palace. The queen arrived late, not in a terribly good mood, and was wearing a tiara, which wasn’t in Leibovitz’s plan (the tiara was supposed to come later in the shoot). Leibovitz asked if she could remove it so that the image would be simpler. “Less dressy” was how she put it. “Less dressy!” the queen replied. “What do you think this is?”

Leibovitz and the queen after the shoot at Windsor in 2016.

Photo: Kathryn MacLeod

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *