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Photos: Queen as commodity, muse for artists, fans

After a reign of 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II’s visage lives on in portraits, sculptures and gallery works, as well as the everyday and unusual.

September 13, 2022
13 September 2022

For a lifetime, she was everywhere all at once.

Queen Elizabeth II was a history-making sovereign, to be sure, but she was also a commodity, an artist’s muse, a conduit for self expression on the street, many streets in fact, well beyond those of Britain.

At 96, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch died on 8 September after a reign of 70 years, but her visage lives on, including her world famous profile. She has borne sculptures, gallery works — a huge portrait in Kosovo made entirely of corn, peas and beans.

The world’s merchandise machine has produced enough tchotchkes to last another 70 years, perhaps. And they didn’t forget her beloved corgis that delighted fans.

During her weeks-long Platinum Jubilee celebrations that ended in June, the Sydney Opera House was illuminated in purple for the queen who said little about her private life as she went about her public duties. In death, her face was beamed onto the iconic structure, and an electronics shop in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, tuned every available screen for sale on news coverage.

Flower memorials spread quickly around the world.

From her tiaras, hats and Hermes scarves to her Launer handbags and even her umbrellas, the queen’s style has been hyper-documented since her birth, young princess days, ascension to the throne and through her sunset years.

She was neither trendsetter nor trend follower, yet that face will remain on souvenir store shelves and in the hearts of fans who are also makers for years to come, long after her in memoriam profile done in glitter paint on a tree near Buckingham Palace is washed away.

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