The Queen is the most famous face in history, but why are her portraits so gloomy? † Culture

tthink of all those history-changing individuals – Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao, Marilyn Monroe. But according to the National Portrait Gallery, Elizabeth II has surpassed them all. She is ‘the most portrayed person in history’. It is an extraordinary fact.

The reasons why there are so many portraits of her are many and varied. Her longevity has clearly been crucial. As we press our lips to the trumpets and tour our 70 platinum toots, most of us will have lived our lives during her reign. The Queen has booked our existence. She’s always been there.

Yet portraits are not like the rings of a tree, each marking a new year of growth. Portraits are the result of a process that has more in common with

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