The Daily Telegraph

‘She was a bit of a fidgeter’

ANTONY WILLIAMS, H M THE QUEEN, 1996

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The painting was unveiled in 1996, the year after I won a local prize following my painting of the Bishop of Guildford. I was told the prize would be to paint someone who was in public life – then I got a call the day before the exhibition opened, saying I had won.

I had a few months to prepare myself to paint Queen Elizabeth, with whom I had seven sittings; I had never met her before, so I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know how to approach her, or speak to her, and I didn’t know any of the court etiquette; all I had was an idea of what she might be wearing.

I tried to approach painting Queen Elizabeth in the same way I would any portrait and to treat her as an individual, to make sure it was a realistic representa­tion of her.

She was very easy to get on with, quite talkative and animated – although I wouldn’t say she was a great sitter, as she was a bit of a fidgeter.

“She moved a few times, and at one point I asked her staff whether I could ask her to keep still because I didn’t know whether I could ask her directly!

“The Duke of Edinburgh walked in and said something along the lines of ‘Not another bloody portrait!’”

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