The PorTraiT of MajesTy
SINCE ITS LAUNCH in 2012, the British government’s GREAT campaign—a global initiative designed to increase trade and tourism—has gone a long way toward raising awareness around the world of the best and brightest that the country has to offer. Hundreds of high-profile people, from David Beckham to Richard Branson, have participated in the effort to date, and in its inaugural year it generated more than £500 million in economic returns in the UK. The royal family has even gotten involved: Prince Harry helped kick off the programme with an event on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, and the Duchess of Cambridge attended a reception at the Royal Academy of Arts celebrating Britain’s creative industries.
Now, in recognition of the work of the GREAT Britain campaign, Queen Elizabeth sat this past March for a series of portraits by the legendary photographer David Bailey. For more than five decades, Bailey—a prime example of British creativity if there ever was one—has made images of men and of women, of politicians and of rock stars, of overlords and of underdogs, that have provided both the lens and the context through which much of British culture of the era is often viewed. Of course, we’re all fascinated by the British royal family, and big, transcendent cultural moments like Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Elizabeth in 2006’s The Queen, William and Kate’s wedding, and the birth of Prince George have all provided a more modern—and in many ways, more human—perspective on their lives. These portraits of the Queen by Bailey are in that vein, and we are pleased to publish them and present them to the world for the first time in the pages of Bazaar.
Here, the novelist Fay Weldon, one of the great lionesses of modern English literature and a longtime friend of Bailey’s, offers her own personal take on these extraordinary images and the great new Britain that they represent. — Harper’s Bazaar