Queen's Official Platinum Jubilee Portrait Packed With Personal Symbolism

The official photograph released to mark Queen Elizabeth II's historic Platinum Jubilee is packed with personal symbolism as well as including some powerful elements of historic royal portraiture.

The photograph was released ahead of the 96-year-old queen's central weekend of jubilee celebrations which includes two public holidays and was taken by veteran royal photographer Ranald Mackechnie.

Mackechnie has photographed the royals over a number of years including two portraits of the queen and her heirs, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George in 2016 and 2020.

In the portrait released on Wednesday to mark the Platinum Jubilee, the first event of its kind in the thousand-year history of the British monarchy, the queen is shown seated alone at her beloved castle home with a host of personal symbols on display.

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Portrait Symbolism
The official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II released to mark her historic Platinum Jubilee was taken by photographer Ranald Mackechnie at Windsor Castle, May 25, 2022. Royal Household/Ranald Mackechnie/PA

A special message was released by the monarch with the image which read: "Thank you to everyone who has been involved in convening communities, families, neighbors and friends to mark my Platinum Jubilee, in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth. I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions.

"I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last seventy years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm—ELIZABETH R."

Here, Newsweek analyzes some of the personal and powerful symbols visible in this jubilee photographic milestone.

Windsor Castle

The queen's official jubilee portrait was taken at Windsor Castle on May 25, 2022 in what is known as the Victoria Vestibule. This space in the castle overlooks the famous Round Tower and the queen is shown seated in front of a window with this tower as well as a statue of Charles II in the background.

That the queen chose Windsor Castle as the background for her jubilee portrait is pertinent for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is the oldest inhabited royal residence at the queen's disposal. The castle dates back to the 11th century and this setting highlights the potent continuity of the British monarchy.

Another reason Windsor is a notable choice is because for the majority of her life, the castle has been a much loved family home. During World War II, the queen lived at the castle with her sister Princess Margaret, when she became queen she then raised her own family there, spending most weekends at the residence.

Queen Elizabeth Windsor Castle Home
The queen has considered Windsor Castle her home for the majority of her life. She raised her own family within the castle walls with Prince Philip and it is now her principle residence. Photographed (L) June 12, 1957. And (R) April 28, 2022. Bettmann/Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Finally, when Britain went into COVID-19 lockdowns, the queen chose Windsor to be her base with husband Prince Philip. When he died in April 2021 he had his funeral at the castle. It is therefore a deeply personal place rooted in the queen's sense of identity.

An added layer of symbolism comes in the fact that the queen's royal house, the name she rules under i.e. the House of Tudor, the House of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, is in fact the House of Windsor. This was adopted during World War I by her grandfather King George V.

Engagement Ring

Perhaps one of the most noticeable elements of the Platinum Jubilee portrait is the prominent display of the queen's diamond engagement ring.

The ring was given to the queen by Prince Philip in 1946 and was made using diamonds from a tiara which had belonged to his mother, Princess Alice of Greece (a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria).

Queen Elizabeth Engagement Ring
Queen Elizabeth II's engagement ring was made of diamonds taken from a tiara belonging to Prince Philip's mother. Photographed (L) July 10, 1947. And (R) May 13, 2006. Bettmann/Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The prominent placement of the ring in her jubilee portrait is a touching reminder that this will be the first major celebration of the monarch's reign where she does not have her consort at her side.

Following his death in April 2021, the queen said of her husband: "In the months since the death of my beloved Philip, I have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work—from around the country, the Commonwealth and the world. His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation—were all irrepressible. That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him."

Outfit Made By Closest Aide

The outfit that the queen wears in the portrait also holds some personal meaning. The dusky dove blue wool coat with pearl embellishments was made by the monarch's closest aide Angela Kelly, who made headlines over the past two years for reportedly coming head to head with Prince Harry over the tiara loaned by the queen to Meghan Markle at the time of their 2018 wedding.

Kelly is a confidant of the queen's who has been granted special permission by her royal employer to publish two books on her working role. In an updated version of her 2019 work The Other Side of The Coin, Kelly wrote that she was "currently in the process of designing new outfits and hats so that the queen can mark such an important milestone [the jubilee] in style."

Queen Elizabth II Angela Kelly Dresser
Queen Elizabeth II's closest aide Angela Kelly has made some of her outfits for the Platinum Jubilee. Kelly (R) seated next to Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, February 20, 2018. Yui Mok/Pool/Getty Images

Historic Royal Necklace Gift From Queen's Father

Another element of the portrait with both familial and royal historical pertinence is the necklace that the queen is wearing.

This two strand pearl necklace was given to the queen by her father King George VI as a wedding present in 1947. The queen decided last minute that she wanted to wear the gift with her Norman Hartnell wedding gown and so a servant had to be dispatched through the thousands of people lining The Mall to retrieve it from St. James's Palace where it had been displayed with other wedding presents.

The pearls which make up the necklace are among the oldest in the royal collection and belonged to Queen Anne as well as Queen Caroline (wife of George II).

Queen Elizabeth Wedding Necklace Pearls
Queen Elizabeth II wore a two strand pearl necklace given to her by King George VI on her wedding day, November 20, 1947. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Portrait Analyzed
The official portrait was taken at Windsor Castle and shows the queen against an ancient royal backdrop while wearing personally significant items. May 25, 2022. Royal Household/Ranald Mackechnie/PA