Queen Elizabeth was “relaxed and friendly” during her birthday photoshoot.
The monarch turned 96 last week, and to celebrate, a new portrait of her with two of her beloved fell ponies, Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie, was released by Buckingham Palace.
Henry Dallal, who took the photo in the grounds of Windsor Castle last month, has told how the queen “enjoyed” taking part in the photoshoot and being with her horses.
He told Britain’s OK! magazine: “She was very nice, very friendly, very pleasant, and enjoyed the occasion. She loved being outside with daffodils everywhere, with the magnolia blossom, and with her horses.
“I’ve photographed the Queen before on other occasions, for the Golden Jubilee, the Diamond Jubilee.
“It’s always pleasant. It’s very relaxed. We take the picture rather swiftly, and afterwards, she stays a little longer to see everyone and be with her horses.
“She will talk to everyone. She will talk to the gardener, everyone. It’s pretty relaxed. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. It’s a huge honour to be asked.”
Although it was a “huge honour” for Henry to photograph the queen again, he insisted he has to treat her like any other subject and focus mostly on the technical elements of his job.
He said: “It was a huge honour. Obviously, it’s a huge occasion for me. It’s a huge honour and it’s always very special to be within Windsor Castle and with Her Majesty.
“But, at some point, my focus becomes ‘take a good picture’. My focus becomes, ‘What do I do to get the best photograph possible?’ In terms of the lighting, the composition, and also, the biggest challenge, is to make sure the four-legged friends are also smiling at the same time and looking at you. But you never have to tell the Queen to smile.”
The photographer was thankful the shoot fell on a day of good weather as it wouldn’t be possible to ask the queen to rearrange.
He said: “You just have to make sure the weather is cooperative. The day before, it was awful, and we were trying to capture the magnolia tree in full bloom before it blew away, so timing is important.
“You also don’t want it to be too sunny or too bright, the lighting needs to be as good as it can be.
“We don’t have that luxury with her majesty because we can’t say, ‘Why don’t you come around at sunset?’ ‘Well the lighting isn’t good, let’s try again tomorrow.’ That doesn’t work!”