The Queen’s Portrait by Cecil Beaton – Book Review

Photographer, costume designer, avid diarist – Cecil Beaton was also a ‘romantic royalist’ whose glittering photographs of Queen Elizabeth II became among the most widely published portraits of the twentieth century. This fascinating book explores Beaton’s long relationship with the Queen and the royal family, and describes how his royal portraits shaped the monarchy’s public image from the 1930s to the late 1960s.

The book accompanies the exhibition held by the V&A, both to mark and celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This compilation of images and diary entries and letters are as intimate as expected but also shows the rigidity and intense planning which went into achieving the perfect portrait. It’s this latter element, with contributions from Mario Testino which has turned a book of photographs into something wonderful.