This Is, Quite Possibly, The Coolest Photo of Queen Elizabeth II Ever Taken


The Scottish National Portrait Gallery very recently unveiled a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II that might just rank as the most legend(wait for it)dary portrait of a monarch ever taken. It’s titled, “Queen of Scots, Sovereign of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of The Thistle and Chief of The Chiefs” and the name only partially does it justice.

The photo was taken by photographer Julian Calder at the Queen’s Balmoral estate, and it shows her majesty standing outdoors, decked out in the raiment of the “Sovereign of The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of The Thistle” and looking every inch as regal as you might imagine an 87-year-old monarch could.

According to Popular Photography, the photo was actually taken all the way back in August of 2010, but was only revealed to the public eye last year as part of the book Keepers: The Ancient Offices of Britain. Once public, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery wasted no time in acquiring it.

Gallery Director Christopher Baker calls the photograph “a striking and distinctly Scottish portrait, which represents an accomplished and fresh interpretation of traditional imagery.”

If you’d like to learn more about the photo and how it was taken — spoiler: bad weather and a midge attack made this one particularly challenging — check out this article published last May in The Daily Mail.

(via PopPhoto)

Image credits: Photograph by Julian Calder

  • harumph

    The photo you used for this article is an outtake. The actual shot can be seen at that Daily Mail link.

  • Shootier

    Like a Boss

  • clavedoc

    great? cliche

  • Spider- Man

    where is the light painting and 60watt lightbulb?

  • Samcornwell

    Something doesn’t look right in the official photo (see Daily Mail link) as in her face isn’t sat properly on her head. It’s like, dare I say, the photographer chose a different face from the same shoot. The tell-tale digital manipulation signs leave a bitter aftertaste.

    Either way, it’s not a patch on Annie Leibovitz’ shoot from a few years back.

  • J

    Indeed, she looks good, but doesn’t Scotland want to be independent from Great Britain?

  • Matthew

    I had to look up what on earth a midge was

  • Mike

    Who needs it? England provides a natural softbox as large as the whole island.

  • Spider- Man

    It’s a joke at the expense of the Canadian Olympics portraits

  • Bosgezen

    Wish they used a large format camera

  • Jason Felmingham

    Such a great and unique opportunity lost with poor framing and average

  • fcumick

    Looks photoshopped to me – and queenie’s face looks a little distorted. Hmm…

  • Roselyn Woodroffe

    Not a very complimentary photo of her Majesty. Just saying.

  • harumph

    The actual photo is more flattering. Petapixel apparently still hasn’t noticed that they posted the wrong picture. Hello, guys?

  • chphotovideo

    I skimmed past quick… had to go back because I thought it said “a midget attack” LOL

  • harumph

    Wrong photo. Petapixel is showing an outtake, and since they aren’t correcting the error, here’s the official photo for anyone who doesn’t feel like clicking through to the Daily Mail article. The difference is slight, but very noticeable when viewed in a larger size:

  • delayedflight

    It looks like her head has been manipulated if you look at her hair it’s a little transparent. Really poor job from the looks of it…

  • Guest

    Old news is so cool.

  • Eboo

    over processed, too gloomy and the pose/expression..pained…

  • Pat

    “legendary” doesn’t have two “ds” in it, even when you’re trying to be clever with language …

  • Mike


  • Christopher

    I want to like the photo…but ultimately it looks like an average wedding photo substitute ornately dressed up queen for ornately dressed up bride.

    The composition is awkward, the color temperature cloying and I don’t care for the deep focus (which puts it at odds with the inspiration – the paintings of Sir Henry Raeburn). It also feels overly sharpened & saturated.

  • Lily

    Exactly my thoughts – The sky is also noisy and it looks awfully flat due to the lighting

  • MMielech

    Annie Leibovitz shot a better portrait outside.

  • javi

    The queen of HDR

  • Junkie

    Petapixel, don’t do these stupid headlines. You are not buzzfeed (or upworthy, etc)

    You are better than that. Just do some normal headlines.

  • Berton Chang

    yea – would have looked a million bucks

  • clair estelle

    yes, it is a very cool photo!

  • 773metric

    Very amusing. This was taken in Scotland, however. Scotland is not England.

  • Craig Moreschini

    The poor lightroom or HDR-like lighting effect makes it look subpar, like over the top artificial fruit flavors, it cheapens the result.

  • Jason

    What a painfully boring subject. Should have used smith and wesson.