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Cool Britannia: rare images show Diamond Queen's glamorous early reign

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Driving in a sleek Bentley, with her tinted shades shielding her eyes from the flashing bulbs of admirers' cameras, this woman and her two children could easily be Hollywood royalty. They are, in fact, the real thing – namely, a young Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Charles and Princess Anne.


The images are a stunning reminder of the youthful glamour which underpinned the Queen's early reign, and come courtesy of Taschen, who are releasing the glossy coffee table book Her Majesty to mark the Diamond monarch's 60-year tenure. Cracking the spine of the tome, royal watchers are taken on a kaleidoscopic journey through time, revisiting the days when the Her Majesty – who ascended the throne at the tender age of 25 – balanced private maternal devotion with the heady demands of royal duty.   One image, taken in 1956, is a visceral reminder of the longevity of our monarch, who is seen managing a line-up including 20th century icons long passed into the history books. A stunning Marilyn Monroe can be seen standing erect, waiting to meet the beaming royal at Leicester Square's premiere of The Battle of the River Plate


On their website, Taschen pay tribute to the Queen, saying, "For over six decades she has steadfastly and loyally carried out her duty on behalf of her country, never speaking out of turn or putting a foot wrong. "The book tells her remarkable royal story through hundreds of stunning photographs, many previously unseen and sourced from multiple archives in the United Kingdom (including the Royal Collection), Continental Europe, and the United States. These images have it all: history, politics, glamour, fashion, culture, travel, and, of course, hats." Her Majesty places bystanders' snaps alongside the work of photography maestros past and present. Sir Cecil Beaton, Patrick Lichfield, Rankin and Annie Leibovitz all feature.

Their images show the Queen's multifaceted nature – and succinctly capture her status as one of the most travelled monarchs in history. Editor Reuel Golden told the Observer he "wanted to convey the relentless travelling, the rituals of meeting and greeting, whether it be in Ghana, France or the US - especially, in the 1950s to 1960s, when she (the Queen) was perceived as a glamorous figure, who would draw huge crowds wherever she went."


Indeed, the seasoned royal globetrotter – who has been everywhere from Sweden to Samoa, visiting well over 325 countries in her lifetime – is shown arriving in Suva, Fiji and being given a bouquet of flowers by a little girl as she descends from the Royal Yacht.

Despite the personal feel of the book, Reuel decided its crowning glory must be in line with the splendour of Her Majesty's 60-year reign, and the cover shows the Queen in full royal regalia, smiling gently into the camera. "Formal portraiture has to be an important part of the book," he said.


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