The Daily Telegraph
‘She was a bit of a fidgeter’
ANTONY WILLIAMS, H M THE QUEEN, 1996
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!’”