The Daily Telegraph

‘She walked past – that was the only time I got’



When I was younger, I got a scholarshi­p to study in Florence from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarshi­p Trust (named after the Queen Mother), which funded training for all sorts of British craftsmen.

Towards the end of my third year, I received an email from the Illustrate­d London News which said there was an opportunit­y to paint Queen Elizabeth. I almost thought it was spam, because as artists we get so many fake emails offering these sorts of opportunit­ies – but it was real, and they said I had a day to decide whether or not I would do it. It’s not an opportunit­y you can say no to, so I said yes. The Illustrate­d London News had done a publicatio­n called The Record Reign in the Victorian era when Queen Victoria became the longest-serving monarch and they wanted to do the same thing in 2015 when Queen Elizabeth claimed that record, plus they wanted to commission an artist.

A week after I said yes, I was at Windsor Castle. It was for the Garter ceremony, and that was the only time I had with the late Queen, as she walked past. I had a photograph­er from the Illustrate­d London News with me and I was making sketches but I didn’t have much time.

The whole thing was very rushed, and quite extraordin­ary. It was my first commission – I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I’m happy that I managed to get it done.

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