IN THE YEAR of the DIAMOND JUBILEE I was invited to cut silhouettes over lunch at a marquee in Coworth Park. It was one of the only events I’ve attended where the toastmaster had to announce lunch by calling for “Your Majesties, Royal Highnesses, Highnesses, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen… ” to take their seats.
This was not my first royal event, in fact I had already twice cut a silhouette of the Queen. The first time was at the “Golden Jubilee rout” in 2002, the second at her 80th birthday party, held at the Ritz in London in 2006. At both these events no photography was allowed, apart from a single royal photographer. I was therefore surprised when Hello! Magazine suddenly published a series of photographs of the latter event – in their Diamond-jubilee souvenir edition – showing me cutting the Queen’ silhouette. They had apparently been released to the press by the Palace as a Thank-you for the work I did at Coworth Park. It had never occurred to me these photographs would see the light of day, still less that they might do so six years after the event!
The Queen’s silhouette
Here are the photographs which appeared in the Jubillee edition of Hello! Magazine (issue no 1229, June 2012). They show the Queen having her silhouette cut during her 80th birthday party at the Ritz, London. I’ve added my copy of the Queen’s silhouette, together with one of the Duke of Edinburgh cut at the same event. From right to left:
- Her Majesty removes her glasses as she does not wish them to appear in the silhouette.
- Posing for a silhouette and clearly enjoying the experience.
- Holding the finished silhouette – now mounted on a card – and showing it to other guests around the room.
I’m told the silhouette was a great success. Lady Elizabeth Anson, who organised the event, writes:
“The man is a silhouettist called Charles Burns, who cut out the images with a pair of scissors. I love the way the Queen takes off her glasses, then happily shows everyone the silhouette at the end of it.”
This is also my recollection of the event. People kept coming up to me afterwards and saying:
“The Queen really likes her silhouette!”
Where do I go from here?
This might just be the most high-profile event I’ve ever attended. I found myself wondering: where do I go from here?
I needn’t have wondered.
by Charles Burns
First published: 2nd October 2012 | Last update: 26th September 2021