Queen Elizabeth II

1 portrait on display in Room 32 at the National Portrait Gallery

Queen Elizabeth II, by Cecil Beaton, 2 June 1953 - NPG P1454 - © V&A Images

© V&A Images

Queen Elizabeth II

by Cecil Beaton
bromide print, 2 June 1953
18 1/8 in. x 15 1/8 in. (460 mm x 383 mm) sight
Given by Mr Ford Hill and the American Friends of the National Portrait Gallery (London) Foundation, Inc., 2015
Primary Collection
NPG P1454


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Artistback to top

  • Cecil Beaton (1904-1980), Photographer, designer and writer. Artist associated with 1087 portraits, Sitter associated with 353 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Beaton was commissioned to take the official photographs of the Coronation, due in great part to the support of the Queen Mother, whom he had first photographed in 1939. Queen Elizabeth chose six Maids of Honour for her Coronation ceremony, following a precedent set by Queen Victoria. For this photograph Beaton placed the Maids of Honour in the order they had stood in Westminster Abbey. To the left can be seen a portrait of Richard Colley Wellesley, Marquess Wellesley (1760-1842) by Sir Martin Archer Shee (1769-1850).
The Maids of Honour were Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton (now Lady Mary Russell), Lady Vane-Tempest-Stewart (now The Lady Rayne), Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby (now The Baroness Willoughby de Eresby), Lady Anne Coke (now The Lady Glenconner), Lady Rosemary-Spencer-Churchill (now Lady Rosemary Muir) and Lady Moyra Hamilton (now Lady Moyra Campbell).

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Events of 1953back to top

Current affairs

A combination of low pressure in the North Sea, hurricane force winds, and high tides result in the Great Flood of 1953. With no warning system many were trapped in their homes as 20-foot waves crashed on the coast; hundreds were killed at sea and on the east coast. John Hunt's British Expedition conquers Everest. News of the achievement reached Britain on the day of Elizabeth's coronation.

Art and science

Frances Crick and James Watson discover the double helix structure of DNA. Uncovering DNA's chemical make-up revolutionised our understanding of the building blocks of life. Ian Fleming publishes his first James Bond novel, Casino Royal. Chad Varah founds 'The Samaritans' helpline.

International

Joseph Stalin dies four days after suffering a stroke. It has been suggested that Stalin was assassinated, as he was denied medical assistance for over a day after he was found; many suspect that he was poisoned. On his death Georgy Malenkov became leader of the Soviet Union.

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