Why Queen Elizabeth Is Giving a Rare Smirk in Never-Before-Seen Portrait from 2004

Photographer Rob Munday is sharing a recently rediscovered portrait of the monarch sporting an amused grin

Rob Munday unveils a never seen before portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at 45 Park Lane on May 04, 2022 in London, England
Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty

There are plenty of portraits of Queen Elizabeth, but a recently rediscovered photo from 2004 shows the monarch in a rare candid moment.

Photographer Rob Munday's snap of the monarch, titled Platinum Queen: Felicity, is going on display for the first time this week to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, which celebrates her 70 years on the throne. Against a black background, the Queen wears the Diamond Diadem with a single strand pearl necklace and pearl earrings — but it's her amused expression that makes the photo stand out.

Munday explained to Hello! magazine that he was taking some test shots when the Queen's close aide, personal stylist and dressmaker Angela Kelly make a funny remark.

"The atmosphere was incredibly jovial," he recalled. "Angela Kelly is a very funny woman, very down-to-earth. And really, really nice, she put us all incredibly at ease. She would tell jokes, and she'd obviously said something funny to the Queen. And she sort of laughed at that exact moment I pushed the button to do a test shot."

He added, "Obviously the Queen is very, very comfortable with Angela Kelly, they have this incredible bond, and you can see it."

Queen Elizabeth II; Angela Kelly
Queen Elizabeth; Angela Kelly. Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Munday can't recall exactly what Kelly said that entertained the monarch — and expects that she probably can't either.

"I doubt that Angela herself would remember after all these years, but it was clear that they just have this really great rapport with each other," he said.

Munday found the portrait last August while going through his archive, including more than 8,000 images featuring the Queen that he took during two sittings in Buckingham Palace's yellow drawing room.

In addition to the "twinkle in the eye" of the Queen, Munday knew he had come across something special.

"It's really about the look and the character conveyed by the portrait, and the fact that you very, very seldom see portraits like that which are totally natural," he said.

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Anna Wintour, Caroline Rush (L), chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC) and royal dressmaker Angela Kelly (R) as they view Richard Quinn's runway show
Queen Elizabeth, Anna Wintour and Angela Kelly. Yui Mok - Pool/Getty Images

Kelly began her career at Buckingham Palace 28 years ago as the Queen's Senior Dresser and rose to become Her Majesty's personal stylist, curator, wardrobe and in-house designer — and one of her closest confidantes.

Kelly wrote about her life with the Queen, 96, in her 2019 book The Other Side Of The Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, and she recently updated the book to include details from the COVID-19 pandemic — including how she took on the duty of cutting the Queen's hair during lockdown.

In the new chapter excerpted by Hello! magazine, Kelly wrote, "From March 2020 onwards I washed The Queen's hair every week, set and styled it, and even trimmed it when needed. My team named it Kelly's Salon."

Queen Elizabeth II attends an audience with the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis (Not pictured) at Windsor Castle on April 28, 2022 in Windsor, England.
Queen Elizabeth. Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty

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When Kelly became more comfortable in her new role, the Queen wasn't afraid to voice her opinions.

"As I grew in confidence I'm sure The Queen thought I was a professional and started shouting at me, 'Don't do that, do it this way. That's right, you've got it, don't change it.' I was thinking, goodness me, I need a gin and tonic," Kelly said. "So while The Queen was under the dryer I said to her, 'I'm off for a stiff drink because this is so stressful, getting it just right for you.' "

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