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04.21.14

Is This The Best Picture of The Queen Ever?

David Bailey portrait lights up HM

Is this the best photo of the Queen ever? It’s certainly the Monarch seen at her most generous, and was captured by British photographer David Bailey to mark her 88th birthday.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of the Queen,” Bailey said. “She has very kind eyes with a mischievous glint. I’ve always liked strong women and she is a very strong woman.”

Portrait photographer Chris Floyd told the Daily Beast:

“It seems at once reassuringly familiar and also complete new. Sure, we’ve seen the Queen smile in that warm way before but only from a distance, perhaps having a laugh with a friend or confidant, caught by a snapper at Ascot from a hundred yards away, never at us directly like she is here. It's part of Bailey’s magic, his ability to be completely equal before all, something that perhaps puts him on a par with the Queen. It’s possibly the most intimate portrait of her I’ve ever seen. I can feel how close she is to the camera, a human encounter between photographer and subject, with the Queen definitely filling the role of subject.”

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There are acres of analysis of the picture in the British papers today; the Telegraph salutes her “magnificently human smile” and says Bailey has “subverted history: because on this occasion the queen IS, as it happens, amused.”

The Times claims the picture is “the first Instagram-style portrait of the monarch, since Bailey had added the distinctive black border that appears round photos taken on the smartphone app.”

The Queen’s birthday will be marked sonically with a  41-gun salute at noon in Green Park and 62-guns at Tower of London at 1 p.m. today.

The Royalist notes that William and Kate have a day off in Australia today, with no public engagements, a wise and respectful move. No one enjoys being bumped off the front pages by their great-grandchildren.