On 6 June 1989 I attended the first of my sittings with Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Seven one-hour sittings were scheduled for me. An initial approach had been made to the Queen’s Private Secretary, Sir Robert Fellowes, enquiring about the possibility of me painting a portrait to commemorate the Borough of Colchester’s 800th Charter Anniversary in 1989.
At the first sitting I was able to sketch, both in words and on paper, my thoughts on the general look of the proposed portrait with the Queen. From my initial hesitant sketches, the scale and grandeur of the work developed more confidently through detailed studies to life-size mock-ups of the definitive image. By 6 December, progress was so advanced that the finished study of Her Majesty’s head in near profile was released to the world’s press. The Queen herself said that it would make a very good stamp.
Sittings were resumed in the early summer of 1990 to concentrate on painting the Regalia and the Robes of State. Gradually the portrait was enlarged to its full size of eight by five feet. Special facilities were created for me to continue work in Her Majesty’s absence in the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace. A lay figure was used during this period for displaying the robes and George IV’s diadem. The final sitting with The Queen took place at 2.30 pm on 12 June 1990. Her Majesty was able to see the impressive scale of the picture, along with a selection of studies that were produced to bring about the life-size work. Encouraged by Her Majesty’s approval, I continued to paint in the final details.
The picture was officially unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery, and I subsequently presented it to Colchester Borough Council in February 1992, as a gift to my home town. It has since been exhibited at Westwood Park, Woburn Abbey and TEFAF (the International Fine Art and Antiques Fair) in Maastricht.
The portrait can be viewed by appointment in the Colchester Moot Hall.