Quotes

'With teeth or without?' 90 years of the Queen and the arts — in quotes

Some of Queen Elizabeth's best bon mots come out of her conversations with artists. Those lines are among the highlights in this round-up of quotes. Long live the Queen, and the LOLs. These are 13 of her majesty's best one-liners.

13 of her majesty's best one-liners to celebrate her birthday

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she meets people being helped by the Prince's Trust at the Prince's Trust Centre in Kennington, London, on March 8, 2016. (Getty Images)

April 21 is Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday, and during her reign — which happens to be the longest of any British monarch — she has sat for more than 130 of the world's finest painters and photographers. Just like certain pop stars who call themselves Queen, this head of state doesn't do interviews, but some of the funniest bon mots captured on record came out of her conversations with artists. Long live the Queen, and the LOLs: here are 13 of her majesty's best one-liners.

"Now then, with teeth or without?"

Why waste time saying "cheese?" So accustomed to sitting for artists, the Queen reportedly starts most sessions with this straightforward question — or so Australian newspaper The Age reported in May of 1980.

This is a portrait photo released on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015 of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II taken on May 1, 2013, at Windsor Castle, England by British photographer Hugo Rittson-Thomas, using a technique that involves the use of mirrors to show each subject from four sides. (Canadian Press)

"I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am."

When it comes to fashion, she has an artist's love of colour.  Royal biographer Robert Hardman recorded this quote.

A woman walks past an artwork of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Andy Warhol in the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition The Queen: Art & Image on May 16, 2012 in London, England.

"Have you been playing a long time?"

The Queen makes some widely reported conversation with rock legend Eric Clapton at a 2005 reception at Buckingham Palace. His answer, by the way, was this: "It must be 45 years now."

Britains Queen Elizabeth II meets legendary guitarists Jeff Beck (L), Eric Clapton (2nd L), Jimmy Page (C) and Brian May (2nd R) during a reception at Buckingham Palace in London, 1 March 2005. (Getty Images)

"I have to be seen to be believed."

That much-quoted line was reportedly HM's response to a question about her love of international travel, but it's an equally suitable answer if you're wondering why so many portraits of her exist. 

"I would much rather be here than at Buckingham Palace knighting a certain party."

She was notably absent when Mick Jagger was knighted, and this confession (quoted by author Christopher Andersen) might explain why. Guess she's more of a Beatles fan?

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II meets musician Paul McCartney as she visits the Royal Academy of Arts in central London, on May 23, 2012. (Getty Images)

"I always try to dance when this song comes on because I am the Queen and I like to dance."

The song in question is "Dancing Queen" by Abba. Obviously. We're a little skeptical about this one — the Queen is reportedly a bigger fan of Rogers and Hammerstein than '70s pop from Sweden — but BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans told his listeners he overheard HM saying just that at a 2008 Windsor Castle party.

Hilton Hassell. The Royal Square Dance at Rideau Hall, 1958. (Victoria & Albert Museum)

"I'm only too happy to be sitting absolutely motionless, doing nothing."

If she'd known more about the artist, she might have thought otherwise. TV personality/painter Rolf Harris, who was stripped of his CBE after a 2015 sexual assault conviction, painted the Queen in 2008. During the sitting, she reportedly shared this witty confession — and we can only imagine she feels the same way during most portrait sessions. You try walking with that many jewels on your head.

Members of the public view an image of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by artist Chris Levine entitled Lightness of Being in the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition The Queen: Art & Image on May 16, 2012 in London, England. (Getty Images)

"Have you seen the photo?"

When you've sat for 130+ portraits, there's bound to be a few fails. When the Queen was presented with Horse in Royal Blue, a painting by Nicole Leidenfrost, this was her reported reaction. In case you're curious, it's meant to depict a childhood photo of the Queen and her father. And no, it doesn't exactly look like the original.

President of Germany Joachim Gauck presents Queen Elizabeth II with a painting of her and father when she was a little girl, June 24, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images)

"Do you think you're going to have to rebuild Rideau Hall?"

We're unsure of the answer, but Gov. Gen. David Johnston reportedly joked that he'd work on finding a suitably spacious place for Phil Richards's larger-than-life oil painting. Standing more than three metres high, the Scarborough, Ont. artist presented his portrait to HM during a 2012 visit to Buckingham Palace. That's when she made this crack.

Queen Elizabeth II unveils a portrait by Canadian artist Phil Richards, June 6, 2012. (Canadian Press)

"It always falls butter side down, doesn't it?"

After a lifetime of portraits, the Queen would know. She made this comment to John Edwards when his palette crashed, paints-first, to the floor.

John Edwards. Queen Elizabeth II, 1993. (Royal Society of Portrait Painters)

"You must make your own way, dear."

Annie Leibovitz may be a world-famous photographer, but she's not above getting advice from the Queen. When Leibovitz explained that she'd like to model her 2007 portrait after the work of past royal photographer, Cecil Beaton, Her Majesty replied with this terse wisdom.  

US photographer Annie Leibovitz poses in front of a photograph of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during a photocall to promote the exhibition Women: New Portraits by Annie Leibovitz in London on Jan.13, 2016. (Getty Images)

"Less dressy? What do you think this is?"

"This," by the way, is the Queen's crown. Annie Leibovitz made the mistake of asking HM to remove it for a "less dressy" shot. 

This undated file image from the BBC television program A Year with the Queen shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during a photo shoot with celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. (Canadian Press)

"It's all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you're properly trained."

It's a line much-attributed to Queen Elizabeth II, and applicable to just about anything... including the arts.

Cecil Beaton. Queen Elizabeth II, 1953. (National Portrait Gallery)

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