28 FEBRUARY 2008

Pictured reclining on the Union Flag wearing skyscraper heels and a chic black ensemble, Zara Phillips takes on a rather different aspect in her first royal portrait. The 26-year-old equestrian champ agreed to sit for Jack Vettriano, one of the world's most commercially successful living artists, for a painting which will be auctioned to raise money for Sport Relief.

"I don't really do portraits, so I told them I would only do it if Zara Phillips agreed," said Jack. "To be honest, I never thought she would say yes."

And he's clearly proud of the result. "She looked exceptionally sexy," he quipped of the Olympic hopeful. "Is it treason to say that?"

And Jack's not the only one who's pleased with the work, which is entitled simply The Olympian. "I think the painting is sensational," says the BBC's Sport Relief co-ordinator. "The reaction among the people who've seen it is extraordinary."

He adds: "Zara was very keen to do it. We had promised (that the artist) would be someone of a very high caliber, and you can't get better than Jack. It was the perfect match!"

According to Jack the Queen's granddaughter is equally delighted with the artwork. "I took it up to her father's place last week and let her see it, and she loved it," he says. "For me, (she) was the person I most wanted to please."

The painting is to be auctioned later this year, along with paintings of boxer Ricky Hatton and Chelsea football ace Didier Drogba.

Photo: ©
The Queen's 26-year-old granddaughter posed for the unconventional artwork by artist Jack Vettriano to help raise funds for Sport ReliefPhoto: © Click on photo to enlarge