Prior to her May 2007 visit to the United States, Queen Elizabeth II sat for a series of official photographs by famous celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Ms. Leibovitz is well known for her sometimes controversial celebrity photographs including one of a naked John Lennon hugging a fully clothed Yoko Ono.
Leibovitz has said the original concept for the now legendary John Lennon and Yoko Ono Rolling Stone cover was for both to appear nude, designed to mark the release of their album “Double Fantasy.” As legend has it, Lennon was game, shedding his clothes quickly, but Ono felt uncomfortable even taking off her top. Leibovitz recalled for Rolling Stone:
“I was kinda disappointed, and I said, ‘Just leave everything on.’ We took one Polaroid, and the three of us knew it was profound right away.”
It was December 8, 1980. Five hours later, Lennon was dead – shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his Manhattan apartment.
Now back to what I was saying about the Queen:
Leibowitz took the official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II in March 2007. One of the photos, shown below, shows a very serene Queen sitting in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace dressed in a pale gold evening dress, fur stole, and diamond tiara. The wide shot captures the Queen gazing towards a large open window and reveals some of the room’s furnishings and a reflection of a chandelier in a mirror. The room is dark except for the soft light flooding through the open window. All is calm.
The session was going smoothly until Leibovitz asked the Queen to take off her tiara (crown) to look “less dressy” for the next photo. The Queen flew into a huff and replied:
“Less dressy? What do you think this is?”
The Queen was definitely not amused and the tiara stayed on the royal head.
The incident was caught on tape and included in a BBC documentary “A Year with the Queen.” The BBC kept the footage and included it in a promotional trailer for the film. The trailer shows the Queen telling an aide, “I’m not changing anything. I’ve had enough dressing like this, thank you very much” and storming out of the room. The BBC later apologized and admitted that the sequence of events shown on the trailer had been misrepresented, as the Queen was in fact walking to the sitting in the second scene, not exiting. This led to a BBC scandal and a shake-up of ethics training. The event is known as “Tiaragate” and “Crowngate.” According to sources, the Queen was still furious about the incident months later.
Here’s the NBC-TV report: