Annie Leibovitz recalls moment Queen said sister Margaret would have been a ‘better subject’

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Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz recalled the ‘vulnerable moment’ the Queen said her sister Margaret would have made a ‘better subject,’ while looking back on her experience of snapping the late Monarch over two decades ago.  

Leibovitz, 72, was asked to take portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday at age 96, twice throughout her life – first in 2007 and again in 2016.

According to Vogue, she was the first American photographer invited to snap photos of Her Majesty, and was ‘honored’ to do so.

However, things quickly went amiss during the first shoot – she was told she’d only be allowed 25 minutes and that the pictures had to be taken at Buckingham Palace, despite her wanting to take them elsewhere.

The outlet also reported that the Queen arrived ‘not in a terribly good mood’ – and that she showed up wearing her crown, which Leibovitz didn’t want in the photos.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz recalled the ‘vulnerable moment’ she shared with the Queen (seen together in 2007), while looking back on her experience of snapping the late Monarch

Leibovitz (seen in 2019), 72, was asked to take portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday at age 96, twice throughout her life - first in 2007 and again in 2016

Leibovitz (seen in 2019), 72, was asked to take portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday at age 96, twice throughout her life – first in 2007 and again in 2016

The two shared an intimate moment during the first shoot, when the Queen told Leibovitz that she thought her late sister, Margaret (seen together in 1946), would have done a better job

The two shared an intimate moment during the first shoot, when the Queen told Leibovitz that she thought her late sister, Margaret (seen together in 1946), would have done a better job

Leibovitz, seen with one of her photos of the Queen at the Women: New Portraits exhibition in 2016, told Vogue that she was brought to tears while remembering the Queen's admission

Leibovitz, seen with one of her photos of the Queen at the Women: New Portraits exhibition in 2016, told Vogue that she was brought to tears while remembering the Queen’s admission

‘I wanted a straightforward, intelligent portrait,’ she explained.

'She thought that maybe she was not a good enough subject, she kind of questioned herself. We got to see all sides of her that day,' Leibovitz said of the Queen, who is seen in 2002

‘She thought that maybe she was not a good enough subject, she kind of questioned herself. We got to see all sides of her that day,’ Leibovitz said of the Queen, who is seen in 2002

When she asked the royal to take off the tiara so that the pictures would come off as ‘less dressy,’ she said the Monarch responded, ‘Less dressy! What do you think this is?’

After the ‘misunderstanding’ was sorted – they included the crown for some of the photos but not all – she said the Queen ‘settled into the shoot and became quiet.’

The two then shared an intimate moment, when the Queen told Leibovitz that she thought her late sister, Margaret, who passed away in 2002, would have done a better job.

‘She said, “I think Princess Margaret would have been a much better subject,”‘ recalled the photographer.

‘That moment of vulnerability – it makes me cry right now to think of it… that there was this moment in the middle of the session when she thought that maybe she was not a good enough subject, that she kind of questions herself. We got to see all sides of her that day.’

'She said, "I think Princess Margaret would have been a much better subject,"' recalled the photographer. The Queen is seen with Margaret, who passed away in 2002, in 1940

‘She said, “I think Princess Margaret would have been a much better subject,”‘ recalled the photographer. The Queen is seen with Margaret, who passed away in 2002, in 1940

Leibovitz was then invited to photograph the Monarch again. This time, the shoot included her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Queen is seen in 2021 with her great-grandkids

Leibovitz was then invited to photograph the Monarch again. This time, the shoot included her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Queen is seen in 2021 with her great-grandkids

Leibovitz said the kids were 'running around' and called Princess Charlotte (pictured with her dad, Prince William, in August) a 'terror' - adding that it was a bit 'chaotic'

Leibovitz said the kids were 'running around' and called Princess Charlotte (pictured with her dad, Prince William, in August) a 'terror' - adding that it was a bit 'chaotic'

Leibovitz said the kids were ‘running around’ and called Princess Charlotte (pictured with her dad, Prince William, in August) a ‘terror’ – adding that it was a bit ‘chaotic’

One of the stunning photos showed the Queen wearing an intricate gold dress with a dark cloak, while sitting on a chair in a stunning room in the castle.

Another featured her standing in a stormy garden in an Order of the Garter robe, while a third saw her staring out a window in the gold dress and a fur coat.

Nearly a decade later, Leibovitz was invited back to photograph the Monarch again. This time, in honor of her 90th birthday, she wanted the shoot to take place at Windsor Castle and include her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and corgis.

Leibovitz said the kids were ‘running around’ – and while it was ‘endearing,’ it was also a bit ‘chaotic.’

She admitted that it was hard for them to get the perfect photo, especially because one of the Queen’s great-granddaughters – Mia Tindall, daughter of Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall – wouldn’t sit still.

But the moment finally emerged after they gave Mia something to distract her – the Queen’s purse.

‘Mia wouldn’t get in the picture. She was running around,’ Leibovitz said. ‘Finally, the Queen gave her her purse and Mia started going through it and walked back into the picture and we quickly took a couple of frames.’

Leibovitz, seen with one of her photos of the Queen at the Women: New Portraits exhibition in 2016, described Queen Elizabeth II as 'quiet,' explaining that she never 'brought up a subject'

Leibovitz, seen with one of her photos of the Queen at the Women: New Portraits exhibition in 2016, described Queen Elizabeth II as ‘quiet,’ explaining that she never ‘brought up a subject’

'The Queen totally gave herself over to the process, to the photographer, or the artist or the painter, to use their creativity and their imagination,' Leibovitz (seen in 1989) told Vogue

‘The Queen totally gave herself over to the process, to the photographer, or the artist or the painter, to use their creativity and their imagination,’ Leibovitz (seen in 1989) told Vogue

She also called Prince William and Kate Middleton’s daughter, Charlotte, a ‘terror,’ revealing that the Queen didn’t want the then-tot to sit on her lap because she worried she’d ‘get all black and blue.’

Midway through the shoot, Leibovitz said it began to thunder, and the Queen ‘motioned’ for everyone to come underneath an ‘alcove under the stairs.’

Her own children were also present, and together, they all ‘hovered under the stairs while it rained.’

‘The Queen told [my kids] how she played there as a child. They couldn’t believe she was the queen,’ she revealed.

Leibovitz described Queen Elizabeth II as ‘quiet,’ explaining that she never ‘brought up a subject;’ but added that if you mentioned something, ‘She would talk about it.’

‘It was her duty sitting for photographs – part of what she did – and she totally gave herself over to the process, to the photographer, or the artist or the painter, to use their creativity and their imagination,’ Leibovitz told Vogue.

‘[Those shoots] were epic adventures for sure. I understood that she believed in giving you free rein when you worked with her.’

The Queen passed away in Balmoral on Thursday, after spending 70 years on the British throne.

Buckingham Palace confirmed the tragic news, writing that she died ‘peacefully’ in her sleep with her family by her side.

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