Do you know…
That Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning sovereign?
By Henry Ward, Foreward by Brigitta Wohlmuth
At only 25, H.M the Queen became monarch on February 6, 1952. Now 90 years old, she has reigned for 64 years – considerably more than two thirds of her life! The death of King Bhumobil Adulyadej of Thailand last October means that Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning sovereign in the world. To celebrate Her Majesty in all of her glory, Canadian-Bermudian artist Henry Ward has painted this portrait in her honor.
About the Portrait
This portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II depicts Her as the Monarch and Patron of the British Red Cross. The portrait had dual functions – to celebrate Her Majesty’s six decades’ patronage of the charity, and to celebrate Britain’s longest serving Monarch. To do this I have included iconography central to The Queen and the charity. The Kokoshnik tiara, diamond earrings and bracelet were owned by Queen Alexandra who presented the first Royal warrant for the British Red Cross charity to the Privy Council through Her husband King Edward VII in 1905. Her Majesty wears the Garter Robes which would be worn for meetings of the Privy Council. In the background I have included a sculpture of the founder of the British Red Cross Henri Dunant, who looks at Her Majesty from the afterlife. The Royal iconography in the portrait bears testament the actual experience of working with Her Majesty, and includes iconography that attest to Her Divine status. In the medallions on the door there is the Sphinx, with the head of a man, wings of an eagle and legs of a lion – the highest embodiments of the natural world. Above this, the Swan defending its brood against the cuckoo – symbolic of Her Majesty as Defender of the Faith and Protector of Britain. To the left, the Lamb sits atop the Phoenix, an ancient symbol of rebirth and immortality. The Queen is thus depicted as the Lamb of God, incarnate throughout time. Her Majesty sits upon the dais which raises Her off the ground to immortality, whilst the pyramidal composition draws its reference from the Old Masters and depictions of the Virgin Mary, an ancient compositional device that represents piety and ascendance. The semicircular arrangement of carpet details is a tacit acknowledgement of Her Majesty’s role as Sovereign of the Realms – literally, the world at Her feet. The flowing blue velvet of the Garter Robes touches closely on a unique ‘Britishness’ of the Sovereign and Her island nation – a testament to our national anthem and ‘Britannia Rules the Waves’. The painting took 11 months to complete, and was painted in secrecy in the artist’s Canadian studio prior to being shipped to Windsor Castle for the private unveiling with The Queen on 14th October 2016.
About the Artist
Henry Ward came to Bermuda in 1987 when his father, the late Puisne Justice Martin Ward, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Bermuda. Henry’s mother is Bermudian and Bermuda has been Henry’s home for over 30 years. Henry’s artistic vision was forged in the vivid contrasts of the Bermudian landscape, painting ‘en plein air’ in St George’s, and in his portraits of various notable Bermudian subjects. Henry has held numerous solo shows here, and is represented in the permanent collection of the Bermuda National Gallery. Henry visits Bermuda regularly to vacation with his wife Tracy and their three sons Xander, Quinlan and Zachary. It is the place that he is proud to call home.