The Story Behind TIME’s Queen Elizabeth II Cover


When Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8 at 96, it was not sudden—she had been underneath medical supervision at Balmoral Fortress and members of the royal household traveled to Scotland to be close to her. However a reverent hush nonetheless appeared to fall the world over on the lack of such a deeply vital historic determine.

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Sir Cecil Beaton—a British vogue, portrait and warfare photographer—took the {photograph} that seems on a commemorative concern of TIME. Beaton, who died in 1980, had a protracted historical past of photographing the royals, and his photographs of them, concurrently grandiose and intimate, helped to mould the picture of the monarchy within the mid-1900s. He was first invited by Queen Elizabeth I to {photograph} the royal household round 1939, when he wrote in his diary: “In selecting me to take her pictures, the Queen made a daring innovation. It’s inconceivable that her predecessor would have summoned me—my work was nonetheless thought-about revolutionary and unconventional.”

Then-Princess “Lilybet” on the Apr. 29, 1929, cowl of TIME


Beaton additionally cultivated a longstanding relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, nonetheless a princess when he first met the household, and would go on to {photograph} monumental occasions together with her coronation in 1953 and the births of all 4 of her youngsters: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

Learn Extra: How Queen Elizabeth II Showed Why Britain Still Has a Monarchy

The picture on the quilt of this concern marks the final {photograph} that Beaton took of Queen Elizabeth II, in the summertime of 1968, when she was 42. In it, the Queen wears the Admiral’s Boat Cloak in opposition to a blue backdrop, a robust and easy picture usually regarded as timeless. Beaton aimed for the collection of portraits to which this one belonged to be “stark and clear and daring”—and most observers within the ensuing many years would deem him profitable.

Queen Elizabeth, as Person of the Year for 1952, on the Jan. 5, 1953, cover of TIME (Boris Chaliapin)

Queen Elizabeth, as Particular person of the Yr for 1952, on the Jan. 5, 1953, cowl of TIME

Boris Chaliapin

On the quilt, Beaton’s {photograph} is bordered by a ribbon of silver, a uncommon prevalence for TIME, which hardly ever deviates from its iconic pink border. The final time the journal used a silver border for a canopy that featured a person was in 2008, when Barack Obama was named president of the US.

Learn Extra: Elizabeth II: Rare and Classic Photos of the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II has a storied historical past of showing on TIME’s cowl: She first graced the entrance of the journal in 1929 as “Princess Lilybet.” She has since been on the quilt at least 10 times prior to now, together with in January 1953 as TIME’s Particular person of the Yr for 1952. Most lately, the Queen was featured on the June 4, 2012 cowl of TIME’s Europe version to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

Queen Elizabeth on the June 4, 2012, cover of TIME's Europe edition, marking her Diamond Jubilee (EQUANIMITY BY CHRIS LEVINE (ARTIST) AND ROB MUNDAY (HOLOGRAPHER))

Queen Elizabeth on the June 4, 2012, cowl of TIME’s Europe version, marking her Diamond Jubilee


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