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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (future Queen Elizabeth II)

1942-1943
Charles Wheeler

coloured chalk on artist board (sheet: 37.5 cm x 30.5 cm, image: 33.5 cm x 26.3 cm)

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1926–2022) was Britain’s longest reigning monarch. The eldest of the two daughters of the Duke and Duchess of York, who became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she was ten years old when the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, and her father’s accession to the throne made her heir presumptive. At 21 she married Philip Mountbatten, who was created HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In 1952, they set out on a tour of the Commonwealth which was to have included Australia and New Zealand; on the way, in Kenya, Elizabeth received news of her father’s death. Her coronation took place on 2 June 1953. On 6 February 2022 she became the first ever British monarch to mark a Platinum Jubilee.

New Zealand-born Charles Wheeler OBE began his career as an apprentice lithographer in Melbourne before training as an artist at the Working Men's College and the National Gallery School. During the First World War he served with the Royal Fusiliers in France. Afterwards, he spent a year in London and exhibited at the Royal Academy before returning to Melbourne. He soon became well-known for his landscapes, nudes and portraiture, winning the Archibald Prize in 1933. Wheeler was painting master and head of the National Gallery School during the Second World War – when the King and his family were looked to as symbols of stoicism and resilience. Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret were sent for their safety to Windsor Castle, where in October 1940 the future Queen made her first broadcast on the BBC: a morale-boosting message to the many other children evacuated from London during the Blitz. She was photographed tending to her vegetable garden at Windsor as part of the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign in 1943; and in 1945 she joined the Auxiliary Territory Service, the women’s branch of the British Army. This drawing by Wheeler show her wearing the diamond regimental brooch of the Grenadier Guards, of which she was Colonel-in-Chief. The brooch was presented to her on her sixteenth birthday, when she had her first official audience and review of the Grenadier Guards at Windsor. The portrait was reproduced in the Australasian magazine in April 1943. ‘Bearing herself with calm dignity’, the caption stated, ‘Princess Elizabeth has, in the past year, taken part in more “grown-up” duties’.

Purchased 2019
© Estate of Charles Wheeler

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Charles Wheeler (age 61 in 1942)

Queen Elizabeth II (age 16 in 1942)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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