The Royal Family marks Prince Philip’s passing with an Annie Leibovitz portrait
The Palace posts Leibovitz’s dual portrait of the Queen and her consort following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death
In 2007, Annie Leibovitz was invited to photograph the Queen. It was a momentous engagement, as Leibovitz explains in her book Annie Leibovitz at Work. “I was the first American to be asked by the Palace to make an official portrait of the Queen, which was very flattering,” she writes. “I felt honored. I also felt that because I was an American I had an advantage over every other photographer or painter who had made a portrait of her. 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.”
Of course, this didn’t prevent the British media from distorting the event. As Leibovitz explains, “the BBC claimed that the Queen had walked out while we were shooting.”
Quite the opposite was true. The Queen remained a willing participant, right up until the end. “What was remarkable about the shoot, and I wrote the Queen a note about this later, was something the BBC missed: her resolve, her devotion to duty,” the photograph recalls. “She stayed until I said it was over. Until I said, ‘Thank you.’”
Indeed, over the following years, Leibovitz has continued to photograph the British Royal Family. A series of touching, intergenerational images feature in our book, Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016.
Now, as Buckingham Palace finds ways to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, they’ve selected another 2016 image by Leibovitz: a portrait of the Queen and her late husband.
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know,” the Instagram post says, reproducing Her Majesty’s words from 1997.
And in her own, respectful way, Leibovitz’s picture expresses that strength. To see more of the photographer’s Royal portraits consider ordering a copy of Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016 here and Annie Leibovitz at Work here.