Whilst the whole world was focused on the 90th birthday of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, my mother’s weekly column of recollections was about the Queen’s visit to Ceylon, aged 28. That historical visit through some coincidence also took place in April, just 2 years after her coronation in 1952. Although Ceylon achieved independence from Great Britain in 1948, it was still a Dominion State and part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Hence, the first-ever visit by the young queen created tremendous interest among the Ceylonese. My mother who was 11+ at the time was taken along by her mother to Colombo city to ‘see the Queen’ as she drove past in an open car.
However, that was only a part of the story, as my mother goes on to describe how the images of the Queen were omni-present during her childhood. Since Queen Elizabeth’s coronation took place in 1952, most consumer goods imported from the UK at the time had included portraits of the new queen. These had ranged from porcelain tea sets and umbrellas to biscuit tins and calendars. I found it both amusing and exasperating that some people had even framed the portrait of the queen which had been printed on calendars and hung on the walls in their homes. So much for national independence gained just 4 years earlier!
My task of course was to illustrate a suitable part of the story. Obviously, researching images of the Queen’s visit was a must. It didn’t take me long to find an old newsreel clip of the event filmed in black and white which had been uploaded on-line. However, after considering that the story was to be published in a women’s weekly and also the Queen’s impending birthday celebrations I decided not to illustrate the historical event per se. Instead I decided to portray the Queen as she would have appeared on a biscuit tin designed to commemorate her coronation in 1952. I felt that since most of the readers of the story would not have seen Queen Elizabeth II in her younger years, my illustration would be a focal point.
Once again, searching on-line proved fruitful as I was able to source several images of biscuit and confectionery tins produced to commemorate the coronation in 1952. Armed with these for reference I set to work to create a likeness to Her Majesty.
At the very outset I decided to restrict myself to coloured pencils for this particular illustration. Art materials-wise it was an Anglo-German combination: Staedtler watercolour pencils and Faber Castell Polychromos pencils from Germany on Artifolk cartridge paper from the UK. Here is the result:
You can view some work-in-progress images of the illustration in my sketchbooks page. I would like to think that Her Majesty would have been amused if she saw this portrait of herself...