A few days ago I asked how many of the Queen’s royal relatives from Europe and beyond would attend her Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year, all gathered together in one place, and if the numbers would match the thirty-five who were all under one roof for her Golden Wedding anniversary in 1997.
This iconic portrait featuring them all was presented by the Royal Households to the Queen and Prince Philip to mark their annivesary . It was painted by Andrew Festing, one of the most celebrated British portrait painters.
Ben Colson, an extremely knowledgeable head guide at Sandringham House, where the portrait hangs in the Saloon by the fireplace, tells me everyone in the picture had attended the the royal wedding in 1947 – apart from the Queen’s own children, of course.
He comments, “Apart from the King and Queen of Jordan (to right foreground, King facing to right) everybody is related. It shows the extent of the success of Queen Victoria as “the grandmother of Europe “.
With many royal marriages now to commoners, Festing would certainly paint a different picture today of the Queen’s royal relatives, it’s very much a bygone era as royal families throughout Europe modernise.
A little information about the remarkable Andrew Festing, his website tells us he has painted over 750 portraits in the last 30 years, including The Queen, The House of Commons and the House of Lords. He was president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters from 2002-2008. At the time he painted this memorable royal gathering, he worked at Sotheby’s, having started there in 1960 following an army career. He was head of Sotheby’s British Pictures Department from 1977-1981. He painted many portraits whilst in the army and at Sotheby’s, and took up full time portrait painting in 1981.
Notable commissions include The Queen and other members of the Royal Family on a number of occasions; official portraits of the House of Commons and the House of Lords in session; official portraits of Speakers Boothroyd and Martin; four group portraits of all the famous English Cricket players in the last 40 years for Lords; six group portraits of the staff at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; these are glorious pictures I have seen in the kitchen.
His portraits can be found in the Royal Collections, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, The Palace of Westminster and many of the major private and public collections in Britain. He exhibited annually at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.