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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Attributed to William Scrots (active 1537-53)

Elizabeth I when a Princess c.1546

RCIN 404444

Queen's Drawing Room, Windsor Castle

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Probably commissioned by Henry VIII, this portrait shows the young princess with bright red hair, wise eyes and a pale complexion. She appears very life-like. This is in contrast to the more renowned mask-like later portraits of Elizabeth I.

In 1547 Princess Elizabeth sent a gift of a portrait to her brother (the future Edward VI). This is now not thought to be this particular portrait but the sentiment in the letter indicates the princess’s attitude to having her portrait painted. She described it as ‘the outwarde shadow of the body’ and expressed a wish that her ‘inwarde minde’ could be more often in his presence.

The piety of this ‘inwarde minde’ is conveyed in this portrait, the simplicity of the princess’s pose is enriched by the inclusion of two books. The smaller book probably alludes to the New Testament, and the larger book to the Old Testament.