Royal photographer behind final portrait of Queen recalls Her Majesty’s quip

‘You can’t make me!’ The Queen’s portrait photographer reveals Her Majesty’s cheeky retort when he asked her to smile – and says he instantly knew he had ‘something special’

The royal photographer who captured the portrait of the joyous Queen that was released on the eve of her funeral has revealed Her Majesty’s witty remark when he asked her to smile – and said he could instantly tell that the image was ‘something special’.

Ranald Mackechnie photographed the late monarch at her Windsor Castle home in May ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Speaking to Lorraine today, he recalled how the Queen cheekily said: ‘Well, you can’t make me,’ when he asked her to smile. She giggled when he replied with ‘Well, you can try.’

The unseen image was released ahead of Her Majesty’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, and showed the beaming Queen dressed in a light blue dress, with her hair neatly curled.

She wore her favourite three-strand pearl necklace, pearl earrings and her aquamarine and diamond clip brooches, which were an 18th birthday present from her father George VI.

The royal photographer (pictured) who captured the portrait of the joyous Queen that was released on the eve of her funeral has revealed Her Majesty's witty remark - and said he could instantly tell that the image was 'something special'

The royal photographer (pictured) who captured the portrait of the joyous Queen that was released on the eve of her funeral has revealed Her Majesty’s witty remark – and said he could instantly tell that the image was ‘something special’

Ranald Mackechnie photographed the late monarch at her Windsor Castle home in May ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Ranald Mackechnie photographed the late monarch at her Windsor Castle home in May ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Ranald – who said he is ‘very proud’ of his final image of the late monarch – also took the official Jubilee portrait of the Queen released to mark the start of national festivities for her milestone 70-year reign in June. 

Talking on the ITV programme, he said the photograph was ‘one of those moments, when you know, as soon as you’ve taken it, you’ve got something special’.

He recalled: ‘We had quite a bit of a rapport that shot, we started with the other shot, and we’re all set up… and she arrived, and walked in, and we said “Hello”, and then she just looks at me and says “What do you want?”

‘And I said “Well, I want you to smile and look happy”. She looked back at me and she goes, “well, you can’t make me”, and I said, “well, you can try”.

‘And she giggled. It was very light, and as I said she’s done this many times before, so she makes it easy for you.’

Recalling his first meeting with the Queen for a photograph, he said: ‘That was 10 years ago at Buckingham Palace.

Ranald - who said he is 'very proud' of his final image of the late monarch - also took the official Jubilee portrait of the Queen released to mark the start of national festivities for her milestone 70-year reign in June

Ranald – who said he is ‘very proud’ of his final image of the late monarch – also took the official Jubilee portrait of the Queen released to mark the start of national festivities for her milestone 70-year reign in June

Speaking to Lorraine today, he recalled how the Queen cheekily said: 'Well, you can't make me,' when he asked her to smile. She giggled when he replied with 'Well, you can try.'

Speaking to Lorraine today, he recalled how the Queen cheekily said: ‘Well, you can’t make me,’ when he asked her to smile. She giggled when he replied with ‘Well, you can try.’

‘Your head’s full of all the protocols… how to bow, what to do, so you can get a little cluttered up with that. But once you’re taking the pictures, that bit takes over.’

Following the Queen’s funeral, a tired King Charles will now ‘recuperate’ at Balmoral before resuming his duties – with France reportedly set to be his first foreign trip. 

The new monarch, who has entered a seven-day period of royal mourning, is said to have chosen the country as a surprise first destination after bonding with Emmanuel Macron over environmental issues.  

Rather than visiting one of his Commonwealth realms on his first overseas trip, Charles is increasingly expected to head to Paris as soon as next month in a tour that could also include Germany

The Foreign Office, which makes the final decision on royal visits, is said to be keen to use the diplomatic power of the monarchy to repair relations with major European neighbours post-Brexit.   

The King and Queen Consort arrived in Scotland yesterday for a short break to mourn the loss of the late Queen. 

But sources close to the monarch said he was ‘buoyed’ by the outpouring of public support in recent days, and his staff are now busy behind the scenes putting project Grandfather of the Nation into full swing.

King Charles III is said to have bonded with President Macron over their shared interest in the environment (they are seen at a gathering of world leaders on Sunday)

King Charles III is said to have bonded with President Macron over their shared interest in the environment (they are seen at a gathering of world leaders on Sunday) 

Sources close to the King say he is still grieving and feeling tired after an exhausting two weeks packed with official engagements. 

‘Balmoral is a place where the King can see his family and at the same time read his red government boxes,’ a source told The Sun

‘It is a place where he can recuperate and get on with state business. This is exactly what the Queen Consort said Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II liked to do when she gave her tribute.’

As well as creating a useful opportunity to cement ties with a leading European power, a trip to France could also help draw attention to a major African tree-planting scheme which both Charles and Mr Macron support, reported The Telegraph

While the King cannot express his opinion on political issues, Mr Macron could organise for the visit to include an exhibition about the Great Green Wall project. 

The ambitious initiative aims to plant a 30-mile-wide belt of trees across the whole African continent to delay the spread of the Sahara and fight climate change. 

King Charles and Mr Macron are said to share a ‘warm friendship’, and last year shared a platform at Cop26 in Glasgow to encourage what the royal called a ‘precious opportunity’ to help save the planet. 

The French president was widely praised for his touching tribute to the Queen in English, which praised her ‘wisdom and empathy’, adding: ‘to you, she was your Queen. To us, she was the Queen’.  

He also confirmed he had invited the King to make a State visit to France, saying: “I had the opportunity to invite King Charles to come to France when it is appropriate for him.’  

Sources close to the King say he is still grieving and feeling tired after an exhausting two weeks packed with official engagements

Sources close to the King say he is still grieving and feeling tired after an exhausting two weeks packed with official engagements

Any trip to France would be followed by a long-haul trip to a Commonwealth realm, it has previously been reported – with the King needing to make up for lost time after Queen Elizabeth II was unable to travel for seven years due to health problems. 

Visiting Germany after France would make sense given its status as a major European power. It was one of the last countries visited by the late Queen and Prince Philip. They went in June 2015 with David Cameron, who was then PM.  

Although no plans for any overseas trips have been set in stone, Charles is expected to go to Australia and New Zealand early next year. He went to Canada in May, but has not gone to Australia since 2018.     

Yesterday, the King, 73, and Camilla, 75, left Windsor Castle, where they stayed overnight on Monday following an emotional private interment, and swept into RAF Northolt in north-west London at just before 10.30am.

His police outriders removed their helmets and bowed while he boarded with his wife, with the plane arriving at Aberdeen at noon. Although the ten days of national mourning have now ended, the Royal Family are continuing to observe their own extended period of mourning until next Monday evening.

All their public engagements have been cancelled and the flags at royal residences will remain flying at half-mast until 8am on Tuesday. 

The King and Camilla will spend at least the next week – and possibly even beyond – at Birkhall, the Queen Mother’s old home on Royal Deeside, whose estate lies next to Balmoral. 

It was part of a long-standing plan known as Operation Spring Tide. He will, of course, continue to deal with the necessary affairs of state over the next few days, but away from the public eye.

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