World

Queen Elizabeth sees new portrait unveiled at Britain's Foreign Office

Britain's Foreign Office has unveiled a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth by the artist Miriam Escofet, which the Queen viewed online on Friday during a meeting to thank staff for their work helping travellers affected by coronavirus restrictions.

Monarch also thanked staff for efforts to repatriate British nationals during pandemic

This handout photo released Saturday shows Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor, England, during a video link call for a virtual visit to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to watch the official unveiling of a new portrait of herself by artist Miriam Escofet. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office via The Associated Press)

Britain's Foreign Office has unveiled a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth by the artist Miriam Escofet, which the Queen viewed online on Friday during a virtual meeting to thank staff for their work helping travellers affected by coronavirus restrictions.

The portrait depicts Elizabeth wearing a blue knee-length dress, pearls and low-heeled black shoes, seated on a chair covered in gold leaf in an ornately furnished room, with a tea cup and a vase of mauve roses on the table beside her.

On the wall behind the Queen is the bottom of a much older portrait, of which only a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the lower part of a lady's white frilly dress is visible.

The painting was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a 'lasting tribute' to the Queen's service to diplomacy. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office via The Associated Press)

"I'm glad I've had the chance to see it. I hope I'll see it in real life one day," Queen Elizabeth said after watching the portrait be unveiled via video conference.

The Queen saw the painting on her computer screen and observed that a tea cup in the portrait lacked a key ingredient: tea. Escofet told the monarch that she had included the insignia of the FCO on the cup.

"She seemed to react very positively to it," Escofet said. "She was smiling, asking how long it took and if I had any more projects on the go after this."

The 94-year-old monarch also thanked foreign ministry staff for their efforts to repatriate British nationals who struggled to return home due to coronavirus restrictions, and also heard about international efforts to develop a vaccine.

"Her Majesty the Queen is our best diplomat," said Simon McDonald, head of Britain's diplomatic service.

During the call, the Queen heard about the FCO's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and support provided to travellers trying to get back to Britain. (Foreign and Commonwealth Office via The Associated Press)

The Queen sat twice for the portrait by Escofet, who was born in Barcelona but has spent most of her life in the United Kingdom, and won Britain's most prestigious prize for portraiture in 2018.

During the visit, the monarch was told about how the Foreign Office handled the shock wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and brought thousands of British tourists home from far-flung travels.

With files from The Associated Press

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