This was commissioned by the Royal Army Dental Corps. It was the second time I have painted Her Royal Highness. The Duchess is the only member of the Royal Family to call me by my Christian name.
The sittings took place on the top floor of Kensington Palace, which is her London home, and the location captures the best of the north light on a landing between the bedrooms. The necklace worn for the portrait once belonged to the Duke’s late grandmother, HM Queen Mary, consort of HM King George V.
This historic connection is emphasised by the chair, which was used by one of Queen Mary’s sons, the late Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the present Duchess’s father-in-law. It is one of those made for the coronation of another son of Queen Mary, HRH Prince Albert, crowned as King George VI together with his consort Queen Elizabeth in 1937. As Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth had a profound influence on my career, so these many references are also significant for me as the artist.
Painting the delicately woven lace of the dress was a demanding task, but I felt doubly rewarded when the Duchess was so pleased with the finished portrait that she asked me to send a photograph of it to her dressmaker.