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The Queen by Cecil Beaton

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2012 marks the 60th year since Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne, and to celebrate, the V&A are hosting an exhibition of her most fashionable portraits.

With one fashion blockbuster already on their programme this season (On Ballgowns, which we've already waxed lyrical about) the V&A have decided to go all out for the Diamond Jubilee with Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Displaying a number of never-before-seen photographs of Her Majesty taken by esteemed fashion photographer, designer and avid diarist Cecil Beaton, the exhibition will have enough to excite monarchists and fashion fans alike.

As one of the most photographed women in the world, there will doubtless be hundreds of exhibitions and books being launched in her honour this year, but the Queen had a longer photographic working relationship with Beaton than most (they worked together for three decades after her first sitting for him, as a nervous teenager in 1942) so the V&A's show promises more touching, informal shots of the Queen alongside the highly staged official portraits.

Extracts from Beaton’s diaries and letters are also likely to reveal an insight into the intense planning and staging that goes into a royal sitting - especially with such a well-known perfectionist.

Scroll down for a sneak preview of some of the beautiful photos from the show below - and we'll see you at the V&A this Spring...

Cecil Beaton, Queen Elizabeth II in Coronation Robes, June 1953 © V&A Images

Cecil Beaton, Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Andrew, 1960 © V&A Images

Cecil Beaton, Princess Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, March 1945 , © V&A Images

Cecil Beaton, Queen Elizabeth II, 1968 © V&A Images

Cecil Beaton, contact sheet of The Royal Family, Buckingham Palace, October 1942 (featuring King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret) © V&A Images

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration opens at the V&A from 8 February – 22 April 2012.

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