Not everyone knows the religious meaning behind this iconic image of the queen.
Behind this unusual photo are the particular conditions the photographer, Chris Levine, set up for the shoot. Filling the room with incense, Levine asked the Queen to focus on an ultraviolet crucifix, “I had all the blinds down … I wanted the incense to create a vibe in the room, I wanted to take her somewhere different so she knew this was a different process,” Levine explained in Tatler. The result is this now iconic photo of Elizabeth II deep in thought, reflecting on a more heavenly royalty: Christ the King.
The photo, which was taken as part of a series to mark the 800-year-old relationship between Jersey — one of the Channel Islands located between England and France that is dependent on the Crown — and the monarchy back in 2004, only recently came to light when Levine went through the hard drive on his computer. He named the holographic portrait The Lightness of Being; it’s a photo that captured a rare private moment of the Queen deep in spiritual reflection.
The photo is actually one of 10,000 snaps Levine took during a two-session sitting. Instructing the Queen as to what he’d like her to wear, the Canadian-born photographer also requested that Elizabeth wear her crown — a slight concern for security. Yet it is the crown itself that seems to bring humility to the photo, as we are reminded that even the Queen herself relies on a higher power.
Read more: Why queens wear a crown, and why Mary does
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