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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Leibovitz unveils Queen portrait
Queen Elizabeth II, by Annie Leibovitz

An official portrait of the Queen taken by American celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz has been unveiled.

The photograph shows the Queen sitting in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace dressed in a pale gold evening dress, fur stole and diamond tiara.

Ms Leibovitz, best known for her work for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines, has said she wanted to take "a very simple portrait".

The picture was released ahead of the Queen's six-day tour of the US.

It is one of a series commissioned to coincide with the Queen's first state visit to America for 16 years which begins on Thursday.


The wide shot taken in March captures the Queen gazing towards a large open window and shows some of the room's furnishings and a reflection of a chandelier in a mirror.

It looks like something you might see in a catalogue offering the Queen herself for sale
Henry Allen, Washington Post

Outside, a dark cloud looms over the green lawns of the Palace gardens.

Photographer Ian Lloyd told BBC News: "This is new and it's different.

"They have removed Elizabeth the woman and you have Elizabeth the Queen."

Henry Allen, culture critic for the Washington Post, was less enamoured and said he had hoped for something "a little more mysterious and a little less secular".

"It looks like something you might see in a catalogue offering the Queen herself for sale.

"The Queen's face has an utterly public quality that approaches, to me, dead, with all the personality of a marble bust of George Washington."

Ms Leibovitz is well known for her photographs of celebrities including a naked John Lennon hugging a fully clothed Yoko Ono and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore.

Shortly after being asked to photograph the Queen, Ms Leibovitz said she was likely to take inspiration from Cecil Beaton who photographed the Queen Mother at the palace.

"I like tradition. Cecil Beaton's pictures - they're very important to me," she said.

"I feel like it's a documentation and want to take a very simple portrait."

There are more than 130 official portraits of the Queen throughout her life, many of them on canvas, by a range of artists including Rolf Harris and Lucian Freud.

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