Sunday Painting: A Centenary Portrait by John Wonnacott

This seemed an appropriate entry for my Sunday Painting feature this week. An absolutely gigantic portrait of the Royal Family painted in 2000 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I don’t think I saw this in person, but I seemed to buy the postcard nevertheless. I am not sure if it shows in this image, but you can see lines on the postcard where the various canvases come together to make this 119 foot by 81 foot painting.

The Royal Family: A Centenary Portrait
Prince William of Wales; HM The Queen; HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother;
The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Henry of Wales; HRH The Prince of Wales
John Wonnacott (b. 1940)
National Portrait Gallery (London)

There is a lot I could say about the wedding this past week and all of the endless prattle pro and con that was everywhere. But I will limit myself to just a few observations. When Charles and Diana got married in 1981, I was in the early stages of my Anglophilia. As much as it may still rankle the old guard, I became a huge fan of the Royal Family mainly due to Diana’s arrival on the scene. My enthusiasm knew no bounds. Thankfully Charles and Diana got married during the summer so I could get up at 3:00 am to watch the wedding and not have to worry about going to school.

So, flash forward to 2011. Although I am still fascinated by trappings of royalty, I am no longer the rabid fan I used to be. As a result I have paid very little attention to William and Kate over the years and I was still pretty ambivalent about them going into Friday’s ceremony. But when I saw the moment when Kate took her place next to to William in the Abbey and he so clearly told her that she looked beautiful, I got a little teary. Unlike the foreshadowing stiffness of C&D, William and Kate looked so comfortable and happy with each other. Let’s all cross our fingers.

Other thoughts:

  • I loved the maple trees that lined the nave of the Abbey.
  • Kate truly looked radiant and beautiful.
  • I think Harry might be starting his very own bald spot.
  • The Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie not only looked ridiculous, but they made the mistake of calling too much attention to themselves at someone else’s wedding.
  • The music was a bit of a snooze. Too much Parry.
  • Were those three Paris Hilton clones Earl Spencer’s daughters?
  • Prince Albert’s fiancee was impeccably dressed.
  • Lady Sarah Chatto looked fantastic and her outfit (by Jasper Conran I think) made her look so much like her late mother, Princess Margaret.

8 thoughts on “Sunday Painting: A Centenary Portrait by John Wonnacott

  1. skirmishofwit May 1, 2011 / 6:25 am

    So fun to read your thoughts on The Wedding. Love the accompanying pictures. I thought the maple trees were lovely too.


  2. verity May 1, 2011 / 6:46 am

    LOL, I had not noticed Harry's impending bald spot – eek – he'd better find himself a wife before it gets worse…


  3. winstonsdad May 1, 2011 / 7:07 am

    The picture is beautiful never seen that painting it capotures the family so well ,I loved the wedding watched at work ,remember my own wedding day to amanda which I loved the seemed a couple in love ,all the best stu


  4. Inkslinger May 1, 2011 / 3:19 pm

    Loved the wedding! Loved your comments, too (totally agree about the York princesses – Ugh!! – and those wonderful, wonderful trees).
    And, seemingly, Kate is choosing this with her eyes open (as opposed to firmly shut against reality). I'm not a rabid royal-watcher, but I was excited about watching the wedding. Wasn't disappointed. Gorgeous.


  5. ~Tessa~Scoffs May 1, 2011 / 5:17 pm

    loved (and agreed with) everything about this post.

    @verity: surely you're kidding.


  6. Steerforth May 5, 2011 / 9:04 am

    I thought William looked great too – the blue sash across the red uniform was really striking.

    I agree about the Parry. It was a big relief when they played the Walton anthem, which I expect was quite shocking in 1937, with its jazzy rhythms.

    I suppose every fairytale wedding has to have some ugly sisters, but even without the princesses to provide a counterpoint, Kate was stunning.

    All in all, a very satisfying (and surprisingly moving) occasion. I was blinking back the tears more than once, rather embarrassingly.


  7. A Bookish Space May 8, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    I hadn't seen the centenary portrait before, but it's lovely. William is also looking like a bit of a rake :o) Hadn't noticed about Harry's bald spot – oh dear!


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