Keen royalists (and readers of the Daily Beast) will have seen some of the pictures before, but still it is a treat to learn that Queen Elizabeth II has become Vanity Fair’s oldest solo cover girl on record at the age of 90 (seizing that title off 65-year-old Caitlyn Jenner).
The Queen sat for a series of portraits by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair’s contributing photographer, at Windsor Castle in April to mark her 90th birthday.
Some images from the resulting portfolio, including the memorable shot of her great granddaughter Mia Tindall holding her handbag in a family tableau, have already been published.
In that snap, Mia proudly holds up her great-granny’s £1,000 Launer handbag in a moment, which one person who was there described as totally unscripted.
“The moment with Mia was completely spontaneous, it was not staged at all. She just picked up her great-granny’s handbag and that was it,” a source told the Daily Mail, “Taking pictures of children is like herding cats but for that split second, it just worked. Annie has children of her own and knows her stuff.”
In another picture released earlier and included in the portfolio, the Queen is shown on the stone steps at the East Terrace of the castle’s private grounds, with her four dogs—two corgis and two dorgis, the crossbreed the Queen accidentally engineered when one of her corgis mated with a dachshund that belonged to her sister, Princess Margaret.
The queen once said: “My corgis are family.”
However two photos—including the cover in which she is also accompanied by her dogs—are exclusive to Vanity Fair.
Michael Joseph Gross has written a piece about her corgis for the magazine.
Of particular delight is an image of the Queen and Prince Philip relaxing like any other old married couple in Windsor Castle’s informal oak drawing room.
“The most moving, important thing about this shoot is that these were all her ideas,” says Leibovitz, in remarks on the VF website.
“She wanted to be photographed with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren; her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; her daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal; and her corgis. I was told how relaxed she was at Windsor, and it was really true. You get the sense of how at peace she is with herself, and very much enthralled with her family.”
The cover shows the Queen holding corgi Holly and, from left, Willow, Vulcan, and Candy (the latter two beasts are both dorgis).
The Summer issue of Vanity Fair is out on Thursday.