The Legacy of Queen Elizabeth II in Photographs
On September 8th, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II of England died at her Scottish estate, Balmoral. She ruled for more than 70 years, longer than any former British monarch. Her life and rule can be defined by many key moments, all of which were captured by iconic photographs. Join Artsper in discovering the monarch’s life and legacy in art.
A young Princess
When she was born, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was never expected to be queen. Her father, King George VI, was given that title only after his older brother Edward VIII abdicated from his rightful place on the throne to be with Wallis Simpson, an American. Thus, Elizabeth became the heir to the throne. The Princess was quickly placed into the public eye, being photographed by great fashion photographers such as Cecil Beaton.
The longest reigning monarch
After her father’s death in 1952, Elizabeth was coronated in 1953. Her Royal Highness became the longest-reigning monarch in British history after celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in June of 2022. Cecil Beaton captured a poignant black and white shot of the young queen on her coronation.
Shown here riding on horseback with President Ronald Reagan in 1982, Queen Elizabeth II experienced a myriad of political and personal turbulence throughout her reign. During her 70 ruling years, the Queen saw the end of the Vietnam war, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 9/11 attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic — to name a few key events. Through stunning compositions, photographers such as Ian Bradshaw captured historical happenings and all quiet moments in between. On this day, the Queen rode for eight miles around Windsor Castle with Reagan on his first official visit as US President.
Pictured below at Buckingham Palace, the late Queen’s life was largely spent in her varied estates. It’s difficult to discuss artworks and photographs of Elizabeth II without too speaking of her surroundings. Many of today’s famous portraits of the royal family are still taken at Windsor, Buckingham Palace and other estates. Such photographic portraits give viewers more intimate insight into the minds of the family.
Queen Elizabeth II was the matriarch of the British royal family for 70 years. One of her most lasting impacts is her heirs. Her reign will be followed by that of her son Charles, pictured below as a young child in 1950. Cecil Beaton again allows viewers to glance into the private lives of the late Queen and the future King. Documentary-style portrait photography is a tradition that the royal family is long accustomed to, and it’s one that will surely be continued by the next monarchs.
Founded in 2013, Artsper is an online marketplace for contemporary art. Partnering with 1,800 professional art galleries around the world, it makes discovering and acquiring art accessible to all.Learn more