Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II looks at a portrait of herself by Henry Ward

Photo credit: Press Association

Back in 2014, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sat for artist Henry Ward as he crafted a painting that would mark six decades of patronage to the British Red Cross.

Two years on, the result is the spectacular eight-foot portrait of the Queen pictured above, which she herself unveiled today at Windsor Castle before a select audience.

This is the first time the Queen has been depicted in a portrait as the patron of the Red Cross. Join us to peek into the archives and take a look at 60 years of support from the Queen.

Through the decades

The Royal Family have been closely involved with the Red Cross since we were founded.

Queen Victoria became our first royal patron in 1870 and many other members have since held significant positions.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the longest serving patron of the organisation and assumed her role following her accession to the throne in 1952.

She has supported us by visiting projects and offices and by attending and hosting events – including a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate 100 years of the British Red Cross.

1950s

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The Queen at Westminster Hall c.1952, talking to a room filled with Red Cross staff and volunteers.

1960s

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The Queen visiting the Princess Elizabeth Red Cross convalescent home in what was then British Guiana, 1966.

1980s

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The Queen during a visit to Red Cross national headquarters on 30 November 1989. She can be seen talking with Erico Fletcher in the international welfare office, who is explaining how the family tracing service had helped to reunite her with family members in Hungary. Thirty years on, the service is still helping people to find missing relatives.

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During the same visit, the Queen watched a first aid demonstration showing resuscitation techniques. We continue to teach first aid today.

The new portrait

The new painting by Henry Ward contains a wealth of Red Cross symbolism – from a bust of Red Cross founder Henry Dunant to the jewels of Queen Alexandra. Queen Alexandra signed the petition for the British Red Cross Royal Charter before it was presented to her husband King Edward VII.

Henry was born in Essex and now lives in Canada. He was chosen to paint this portrait by the Red Cross because of his support for the charity.

Henry said: “As a long-standing supporter of the British Red Cross it has been an honour to paint The Queen to celebrate six decades of her patronage.

“To portray Her Majesty as monarch and as patron of the Red Cross I have included imagery that relates to the history of the relationship. I have also been influenced by previous Royal portraitists such as Anthony van Dyck and Sir Joshua Reynolds.”

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the Red Cross, added:

“We are hugely grateful to The Queen for sitting for this portrait and unveiling it today. It celebrates the strong relationship between the British Red Cross and the Royal Family and the history of our life-saving work.”