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The Queen’s Photo Used to Announce Her Death Has a Very Special Story Behind It

The world is in mourning after the death of Elizabeth II, the longest-serving British queen, on Thursday at the age of 96. The Royal Family issued a message on Twitter and Instagram announcing the bad news.

On Twitter and Instagram, a stunning black-and-white photograph taken more than 15 years ago as she celebrated a big milestone followed the news.

The Queen passed away peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon, said the news. The King and Queen Consort will spend the evening in Balmoral before returning to London tomorrow.

The late photographer Jane Bown, who was 81 at the time, took the shot in February 2006 at Buckingham Palace for the longest-reigning British monarch’s 80th birth anniversary. The photograph is a popular image of Her Majesty and appears in Bown’s book, Exposures.

According to the Royal Collection Trust, Queen Elizabeth II chose Jane Bown to take a photographic portrait at the commencement of her eightieth birthday year. Bown, another octogenarian, has been a professional photographer since the late 1940s.

The picture was also part of the Royal Collection Trust’s exhibition The Queen: 60 Photographs for 60 Years, which was shown in 2012 to honor the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Queen Elizabeth was just the second British monarch to attain the Diamond Jubilee after her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901), who celebrated her own in 1897.

The Royal Collection Trust recognized Bown for her easy going approach, working at speed, utilizing only available light, and painting in black and white rather than color. She had been photographing for The Observer since 1949, and the Royal Photographic Society bestowed an honorary fellowship on her in 2000. She was awarded an MBE in 1985 and a CBE in 1995.

Queen Elizabeth alluded to Bown as an artist during her CBE ceremony in 1995, but Bown responded modestly, she is not an artist, just a hack. Bown stated that she spent her entire life obsessing over time and light. It was something if she had time, but it was even better if she had light. Bown died in December of 2014, at the age of 89.

Another notice on the Royal Family’s website featured a photo of the newly crowned 27-year-old queen from her 1953 coronation, displaying Queen Elizabeth at the start of her rule. She is replaced as monarch by her 73-year-old eldest son, King Charles III.

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