Commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry, to celebrate Prince Michael’s appointment as President. The board had expressed a wish for the Prince to be painted wearing his official chain of office, whilst he much preferred to be painted wearing what he called his driving outfit. In reality this outfit was a very well cut jacket and cavalry twill trousers in Broadlands tweed (designed by Lord Mountbatten). Prince Michael also liked the idea of including his cherished sports car in the portrait. The sittings took place in the Stable Yard at Kensington Palace.
Although he had privately viewed the portrait before the unveiling, he reserved any comment for the public presentation. Every year, to celebrate his birthday, the Institute of the Motor Industry holds a special luncheon for Prince Michael in the grand surroundings of its headquarters in Hertfordshire. Two to three hundred of the country’s top motor dealers and distinguished members of the Institute are invited to attend, and after this luncheon His Royal Highness was invited to unveil the portrait.
With a trumpet fanfare from one of his favourite regiments, he tweaked at the cord securing the silk cloth over the portrait. It fluttered to the ground, and everyone applauded.
The Prince surveyed the assembled company and, thinking carefully before he spoke, took up the microphone and declared, ‘It’s a triumph!’ You’ll have to believe me, but the effect was instantaneous. To a man, the entire assembly of 250 car dealers were mouthing to each other, ‘Surely it’s an Aston Martin!’ (As the Prince obviously knew, the Triumph was a well-known marque of sports car.)