How the late Queen Elizabeth II insisted on her four dogs being 'piled' into her portrait

The late Queen Elizabeth II insisted on including all four of her dogs in a royal portrait reveals the artist

Queen Elizabeth II insisted
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

It has recently been revealed that Queen Elizabeth II insisted on including all four of her pet dogs when she had her portrait taken by artist Nicky Phillips.

In an interview with The Times, Nicky Phillips spoke about what it was like to paint several members of the Royal Family. The artist revealed why 'the whole mood changed' for Princess Anne during a moment that captured for eternity and even spoke about what it was like to paint the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

In Nicky Phillips portrait of the Queen, four of her dogs are present at the bottom of the image. Nicky revealed this was because the Queen insisted that none of her beloved pets were left out of the time. Nicky decided she wanted a dog in the portrait and revealed that she and the Queen then debated how many to include.

"She said: 'How many do you want?'" said Nicky and they decided that one would be pointless, two wouldn't look good in the painting's composition, and the fourth would be left out if they only had three. "Oh my goodness! We can’t have that, can we?" the Queen reportedly told the artist. "So I piled them all in," joked the artist.


(Image credit: Getty)

The artist also revealed that she was panicking while trying to get down as much detail as possible, but the Queen kept her entertained with 'jokes all the way through it'.

"I was in such a mad panic to get as much down as possible, I don’t think I had time to think about the whole regal side of it until I had it back in the studio. Then you get stuck into the Garter star and the jewels and you start thinking: ‘Oh God, who walks about looking like this?’ But when I was with her she was just another person with skin colour and eye colour, and I had to get it right."

Nicky added, "Of course, the adrenaline is absolutely buzzing. She told lots of stories and jokes, and was very funny all the way through it. I so nearly said to her: 'Can I just put my brushes down and sit with you for the rest of the hour?' I wanted to try and remember as much as possible but at the same time I had to remember: 'Maybe a little bit more vermilion in her skin.'"

A young Queen with her corgis

(Image credit: PA Images)

Nicky revealed the Queen was, "quite fidgety, but you know what, she had done 134 [portraits] or something." The artist added that the Queen powered through despite her lack of patience, "She seemed to think that it was just something that came with the job."

The artist added that she thought the Queen wanted to 'get the whole thing over with' and therefore was very obliging when Nicky politely told her to stop talking so she could paint her face properly. "I do not want people to have their mouths open. Grinning is for photographs. I did have to say, could she, in the nicest possible way, shut her mouth. She was so obliging. I think she just wanted to get the whole thing over with," said Nicky.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.