Her Maj: Cartoon Museum heralds Diamond Jubilee with 60 Years of Unofficial Portraits

By Ben Miller | 07 February 2012
Curator's Choice: Anita O'Brien tells us about a few of her favourite things from the Monarch-starring new show at London's Cartoon Museum...

A cartoon of a royal Queen dressed in green drinking beer while levitating above a sea
Dave Brown, Independent (May 18 2011)© Dave Brown/Independent
"One of the themes in the exhibition is the Queen as the 'Face of Britain', both in terms of how she is represented and her role as the ultimate representative of the state.

On May 17 2011 the Queen arrived in Ireland, the first British monarch to visit since her grandfather George V in 1911, when it was still part of the British Empire.

Her historic visit was regarded as the culmination of the peace process."

An image of a cartoon showing a Queen and her husband discussing press intrusion
Media Tarts, Guardian (2008)© Andrew Birch
"On the whole, the cartoons are more critical of other members of the Royal Family than of the Queen herself.

In 2008, Peter Phillips, the son of the Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips, married Autumn Kelly at the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle.

In return for a reputed payment of £500,000, Hello! magazine's photographer was given exclusive access to the event, resulting in images of the Queen and all the prominent members of the Royal Family being splashed over a 59-page spread.

Buckingham Palace acknowledged that it had been 'a serious misjudgement'. This is not the only cartoon in the exhibition to raise the issue of the press."

An image of an ink cartoon showing a Queen in royal costume digging through a skip
Martin Honeysett, You'd Think she Would have People Doing that sort of Things for her. The Oldie (2008)© Martin Honeysett
"A number of the joke cartoons in the exhibition are on the subject of money and the monarchy. In 2008, reports that the Royal Household might be heading into the red were met with little sympathy."

An image of a pen and ink cartoon of a large royal family sitting on sofas in a lounge
Up the Mall. An Everyday Story of Royal Folk. Private Eye (1968)© Ralph Steadman
"In May 1968 it was announced that the Royal family had given permission for a film crew to go behind the scenes and record the Queen and other members of the family at work and at play.

The Queen Mother was vehemently opposed to the filming; the Queen's own reservations were overcome by her husband and her cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten.

The resulting 105-minute TV documentary Royal Family caused a sensation and had a significant impact on the way cartoonists depicted the monarchy."

An image of a colour cartoon of a Queen on her throne talking to a bowing Prime Minister
Martin Rowson, Today (1987)© Martin Rowson
"In the dissolution honours list of July 1987, several of Mrs Thatcher's former ministers sacked by her since 1979 were given life peerages.

If you look closely at the original drawing you can just make out the outline of another corgi sniffing the premier's derrière. Rowson was asked by a Today editor to conceal the offending animal."

An image of a colourful cartoon of a woman with a huge mouth pulling pints at a bar
Trog (Wally Fawkes), Queen Elizabeth II (2002)© Cartoon Museum Collection
"Shortly before her Golden Jubilee the Queen visited the set of EastEnders, where she was shown around by Barbara Windsor.

The actress said afterwards: 'I was a bit embarrassed when she said she wanted to go behind the bar because we hadn't swept up and there were old bottle tops and glasses and stale beer all over the floor.'

This cartoon was commissioned by the Cartoon Museum to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee and is one of a number in the exhibition by the great cartoonist and caricaturist Wally Fawkes, aka Trog."

  • Her Maj: 60 Years of Unofficial Portraits of the Queen is at the Cartoon Museum until April 8 2012. Open 10.30am-5.30pm (closed Monday, 12pm-5.30pm Sunday). Admission £3-£5.50 (free for under-18s).
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