A new portrait of Prince Philip has been unveiled that depicts his connections to the Danish Royal family. It is incredibly lifelike – at first glance, it almost appears to be a photograph!
Painted by the Australian born artist, Ralph Heimans, earlier this year, the almost full-length portrait shows The Duke of Edinburgh standing in the grand corridor at Windsor Castle, wearing the blue sash of the Order of the Elephant, Denmark’s highest ranking order. The order was established in 1693 and is used today to honour Royalty and Heads of State.
The Duke of Edinburgh himself was born in Corfu, but he became a naturalised British citizen in the 1940s. Prior to this, he was a Prince of Greece and of Denmark. His grandfather, George I of Greece, was a Danish Prince born in Copenhagen, and his great grandfather, Christian IX, was King of Denmark from 1863 to 1906.
At the end of the corridor where the Duke is depicted, lies the Tapestry Room where his mother, Princess Alice of Battenburg, and maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria, were both born. Both women are present in the new portrait: white marble busts of the two are visible, also appearing in a Tuxen painting – hanging on the right of the corridor – with Queen Victoria.
Another nod to Philip’s Danish heritage is the inclusion of a Royal Copenhagen porcelain dinner service. The 725 piece service – for 60 place settings – was a wedding gift from Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863.
Additional pieces to the service were presented to Princess Elizabeth – as The Queen then was – and Prince Philip as wedding gift from the King and Queen of Denmark (Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid) in 1947.
The portrait will go on display at the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, which is holding a retrospective exhibition of Heiman’s work in 2018. The display aims to depict the cultural and historical connections between the Danish and British Royal Families, hence the piece’s inclusion.
It is hoped that the portrait will move to London later in the year.
Mr Heimans said he hoped the painting did justice Prince Philip’s ‘unique character’, adding: “Aesthetically, the natural light and heritage backdrop of the grand corridor at Windsor Castle provided a compelling mood.”
“I hope people enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.”
The painting was completed in the year that the Prince announced he would be retiring from official public duties, shows him wearing the ‘Windsor uniform’ – introduced by George III in 1777, it is the outfit worn by male members of the Royal Family for evening occasions at Windsor. The uniform comprises a plain navy tailcoat with distinctive red facings.
Heimans also painted a full length official portrait of The Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year, which attracted record crowds when it was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in Australia.
It was vandalised with spray paint in 2013 while on view in the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey. The portrait has now been restored and will be seen again in the abbey’s new museum.
This portrait of Prince Philip certainly seems to capture his personality, and also shows the resemblance between himself and his eldest son, The Prince of Wales, which generally goes unnoticed. What do you think of the portrait?