Wednesday, 6 June 2007

ROYAL HEIR

The recent photographic portrait of H M Queen Elizabeth by that absurdly talented photographer (herself the Queen of Vanity Fair) Annie Leibovitz has had it's critics, but then what portrait of QE2 (from Annigoni to Rolf Harris) hasn't?


What I find interesting is that a portrait by a 'colonial' and, what's more, one who has not only photographed John Lennon and Demi Moore in the nude...


...but has also recently taken to doing PR snaps for Disneyland with David Beckham, Scarlett Johansson and the like...


...should have managed to get a detail about Her Majesty right that seems to have eluded One's staff at One's Bank of England.

I refer to the fact that when they came to design a nice new £20 note (bizarrely dumping Edward Elgar from the backside --- and in his centenary year!) they not only managed to make it look convincingly like a Euro note, but also obviously missed the fact that Mrs Windsor now has silver white hair as opposed to sporting a rather vulgar purple rinse!


Is it, I wonder, a matter of protocol? Do monarchs' likenesses only get up-dated every 25 years or so? Or is Mr Andrew Bailey, the current Chief Cashier, so busy signing notes that he never quite gets around to asking Her Majesty's Personal Private Secretary whether Her Majesty would mind awfully if she started looking her age on the national currency.

If the "I promise to pay the bearer..." inscription means anything, shouldn't the piece of paper on which it is printed at least carry images that suggest that the people involved go in for Truth rather than Fiction?

Besides, supposing, one day the Aliens really do land and ask to be Taken to Our Leader? Well, if they happen to have seen a £20 note are they conceivably going to believe that the occupant of Buckingham Palace is the same person? I think not...

It may rankle with royalists, but a realistic portrait of the British monarch doesn't seem such a bizarre thing to request... After all, it's not as if Queen Liz had suddenly turned into the Crone from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is it?

Maybe someone should rummage through the 'British Penny Production Records' in the Bank of England archives and find out how and when they persuaded Queen Victoria to stop looking like an 18 year old young girl with her hair in a bun in favour of resembling like an 80 year-old pug in a tiara...

11 comments:

Chris said...

Well I don't know where that pose from the Annie Liebowiz shoot came from, because it wasn't in the Vanity Fair I have.(and yours is nicer) The two photos in my copy of VF have her Majesty looking rather grim or cross. I was left wondering if we had gotten a bit peeved at the photographer.
As to money, look no further than the fantasy representations of Thomas Jefferson and others on the newer American bills. Odd looking, cartoonish and slightly bizarre.Granted TF is long dead so is unlikely to object. My guess would be that any selection would be subject to royal aproval. Would I be right?

Brian Sibley said...

CHRIS - Different Leibovitz photographs were released on various dates to various magazines - this one was published in 'Hello' magazine. I read somewhere (either in 'Hello' or 'Vanity Fair') that HM was indeed a bit grouchy and not best pleased at having to wear all that paraphenalia in the middle of the day for a shoot that, I think, had to be complted in under an hour...

Since Annie was able to use Photoshop in order to create a London sky with that strange apocalyptic appearance, no doubt HM wondered why the photographer couldn't have similarly used digital technology to add in the robes, furs and tiara!

Boll Weavil said...

Presumably this means you must want all our coins withdrawn from circulation because the outline of HM is no longer historically accurate ? Personally speaking, I never have money in my hand long enough to see WHAT picture us on it or of whom. It always seems to be just passing through :-(

Elliot said...

Regarding the money.
In Australia (where I am from) as new money is minted, the image of the Queen is aged to reflect her likeness at the time of minting.
When I arrived in London I was surprised to discover that the same thing does not happen here.

Brian Sibley said...

BOLL WEAVIL - Of course the Queen never carries any money so she not only doesn't notice that she isn't getting any older, she also doesn't experience the curious transient nature of cash as do the rest of us!

ELLIOT - This is, of course, a ploy on the part of the Australian government to speed up a final break from the Commonwealth - when HM sees how old she now looks on Australian money you will all be BANISHED! Mind you, she might decide to have you all deported to somewhere else --- such as... er... well... New Zealand?

Elliot said...

Actually, we had a referendum several years ago to vote if we wanted to sever ties to the monarchy and become a republic.
We voted "no thanks, we have other things to worry about at the moment".

Brian Sibley said...

ELLIOT - In that case, your money-designers are very probably guilty of an act of treason!

Elliot said...

Possibly true.
Interesting fact - All Australian notes are made of plastic.
They are beautifully designed too.

Brian Sibley said...

ELLIOT - They are, as indeed are the notes in New Zealand. They are much better at surviving the wear and tear of daily life and rarely look quite as tatty and scruffy as UK and USA bills. They also have little transparent shapes in them (at least I think they have, the NZ one certainly do) which are kind of cute - and a useful reminder that, if you try hard enough, you can always see through the power of money!

Elliot said...

UK bills are a frustration to me as they don't fit in my Australian wallet.
American money does perfectly, but it's an image we see so often in the world that it doesn't feel like real money.

Chris said...

"not best pleased at having to wear all that paraphenalia in the middle of the day "
I would think she'd be used to it after 50 years or so. They keep playing that "Royal Year" program over here and she wears all those "Order of the Garter" robes all day in the heat.(Yes, Americans are still fascinated-thank God they never issued The Shrub robes and a crown)
There's something very Dorian Grey about the Aussie aging of the monarch.....