Iconic profile of the Queen

With over three billion copies made so far, the Queen's head on a British stamp is one of the most recognisable images ever made. Now a Kent gallery is hosting the original print.

How a Royal icon was created

The image has been the same for 46 years. In 1966, Royal Mail wanted a new picture of Her Majesty for stamps. It wasn't easy.

The Queen spent a whole day being photographed by a photographer, but didn't like the proofs. John Hedgecoe was called in. But even his photos nearly weren't used.

He photographed the Queen from every sort of angle, he got in lights, the whole room was festooned with technology and after about 20 minutes, he said: "I think I've got enough done ma'am", to which she replied, "so soon Mr Hedgecoe? Couldn't we take some more?"

They went into the next room and he took the picture against the lights, through the windows. That was the one Her Majesty chose.

A plaster cast was made from the silhouette and the cast was photographed. That's what we see on our mail. The original print is at the Topfoto Gallery in Kent.

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