Portrait shows Queen in race outfit

Last updated at 09:37 19 April 2006

A new portrait of the Queen to mark her 80th birthday has been unveiled - showing her dressed all in pink and ready for the races.

The painting by Jemma Phipps captures the monarch in one of her Ascot outfits, complete with matching hat.

It was commissioned by the Duke of Devonshire to celebrate both the revamp of the famous racecourse and the Queen's milestone birthday.

Phipps, who has a studio in Fulham, south west London, is the daughter of the equestrian and portrait painter Susan Crawford and at 28 is one of the youngest to paint the Queen in person.

The image depicts a well-looking Queen, clutching white gloves and a programme, with a white handbag over her arm. There is no broad smile as featured in Rolf Harris's portrait of the Queen last year.

Phipps picked the baby pink outfit - her own favourite colour - from a selection of outfits presented by the Queen's dresser.

"It was quite hard to concentrate as I was trying to get my head around the fact that I was chatting to the Queen and she was making me laugh," Phipps recalled of the first sitting in the opulent Music Room of Buckingham Palace.

"I believe I saw a side of our monarch that the public rarely sees. She was quite laid back, yet sharp and a great sense of humour. She also has amazingly good skin for an 80 year old. I hope I have done her eyes justice, as they are incredibly beautiful still and always lit up."

She recalled how it was difficult to forget the Queen is "no ordinary granny".

"At the end of the first sitting the Queen had to go into the next-door stateroom and be photographed for a coin. I was immediately reminded this was no ordinary granny. She walked back through with a tiara the size of a fender on her head and the biggest grin imaginable."

The portrait will go on display at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters' annual exhibition on April 25 at the Mall Galleries in London.

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