The Queen in Zoomer: Revisiting Her Majesty’s 6 Royal Covers for Her 96th Birthday
Queen Elizabeth II, seen here in 2002, has appeared on the cover of Zoomer in exclusive portrait photos, illustrations and even as an effigy on the side of a coin. Photo: Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images
She’s the longest-reigning British monarch in history, not to mention the longest-serving female head of state ever — currently on her 13th Canadian prime minister, 14th U.S. president and seventh pope. From the British throne she’s witnessed everything from the moon landing to the Mars rover, social revolutions, geopolitical upheaval, shifting cultural mores and the incredible advancements of the digital age. And as Queen Elizabeth II turns 96 on April 21, she remains one of the few steadfast constants in a world that can change on a tweet.
The Queen is also a tether that connects us to the traditions and institutions she represents, a common thread that runs through generations. Whether you’re 70 or seven she’s the only British monarch you’ve ever known — her face on your currency, her portrait hanging in your school, her likeness depicted in your favourite films and TV shows.
And as she grew from young princess to historically reigning Queen in the public eye, she also became a symbol for steadfastness, longevity, living with vitality, and aging with grace and dignity.
It’s those traits, along with a respect for her life and work and the Royal Family she leads, that has landed Queen Elizabeth II on the cover of Zoomer magazine six times in the last 13 years.
From exclusive portraits photographed by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams to an illustration of the monarch alongside a moose by legendary Canuck artist Charles Pachter, the Queen’s covers — and stories that accompany them — always prove a favourite among Zoomer editors and readers alike.
So to celebrate Her Majesty’s 96th birthday, we revisit every Zoomer cover featuring Queen Elizabeth II.
April 2009: Special Royal Report: Keys to the Queen’s Longevity
Zoomer magazine launched in October 2008 with a portrait of Wayne Gretzky — shot by Bryan Adams — on the cover.
Six months later, in April 2009, Adams supplied Zoomer with yet another original cover image — this time of the Queen herself.
Her Majesty was, of course, born in April — she was turning 83 that year — making it the perfect occasion for her to make her Zoomer cover debut. And the fact that it was an original, exclusive for publication portrait of the Queen by Adams made it that much more special.
“The portrait is the Queen as she’s never been seen before. No one gets that laugh out of her. You rarely see that in a sitting portrait, unless she’s out at the races or something,” Suzanne Boyd, Editor-in-Chief of Zoomer magazine, recalls. “And the [shot] of her in her queenly suit surrounded by the wellies was such a great juxtaposition. It just tells you a lot about her, that photograph … and so the fact that we could publish it was very thrilling to us and we were happy to do it.”
The photo was snapped by Adams in 2002, as he was among a handful of photographers given an opportunity to photograph Her Majesty for her Golden Jubilee. In 2003, the image was released by Canada Post as a postage stamp.
“So for a new magazine we [began] as part of the cultural conversation just by the fact that we started with Wayne Gretzky on our cover, photographed by Bryan Adams,” Boyd adds. “But really, this cemented it just six months later from the October issue to the April issue. Having the Queen on our cover gave us another cultural moment.”
Inside the issue, which was themed around “Keys to the Queen’s Longevity,” Elizabeth Renzetti profiled Her Majesty through the lens of her own experiences in meeting the monarch. As well, we tracked 12 royal secrets to longevity based on the Queen’s own life, from mental and physical health tips to enjoying the occasional tipple.
March 2012: Smart Strategies for Tough Times
It seems fitting that the first time Zoomer ran a cover that did not feature a photograph of a specific person, it still managed to feature the likeness of the Queen — which just reinforces her iconic status as more than a person, but a symbol.
Zoomer’s March 2012 issue was highlighted by a feature editorial package that included in-depth financial analysis and advice — including from the likes of Ali Velshi, David Chilton, Gordon Pape, Kevin O’Leary and others. The cover featured the image of the Spirit of Haida Gwaii coin — the 10-kilogram (22-pound) gold coin with a purity of 99.999 per cent and a face value of $100,000 launched by the Royal Canadian Mint the previous autumn (the flip side of the coin featured an image of Bill Reid’s legendary Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture).
The effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, by artist Susanna Blunt, was described by the Mint at the time as, “A more mature and less formal portrait of Her Majesty … The effigy exudes both poise and strength — two qualities that have defined Her Majesty’s reign. It’s a more modern representation of the long-reigning Queen of Canada, an extraordinary person who was not born to rule, but who … dedicated her life to duty and to the service of the Commonwealth.”
“Her visage, her portrait, her profile is shorthand and it’s just such an immediate stamp on your brain when you see that,” Boyd adds. “It just shows the power of her image and the symbolism and how ingrained it is.”
Much like the opening scene in the third season of the hit Netflix series The Crown — in which Olivia Colman, as the Queen, sits for a new postage stamp portrait while simultaneously glimpsing the previously used portrait of herself as a younger monarch — Canadians have watched the Queen age with grace on their very own currency.
Queen Elizabeth II first appeared on a Canadian coin in 1953 — the year of her coronation — and we’ve jingled her effigy around in our pockets and change purses ever since. Every time we pulled out a penny, nickel, dime or quarter to slip into a vending machine or scratch a lottery ticket, the Queen was there. Making a call on a payphone? The Queen was there. Laying a quarter on the railroad track as the train came barreling along? The Queen was there — and was likely left feeling a little flat.
And then there’s the paper currency — Her Majesty’s face at various ages and stages appeared in our birthday cards, was passed across tables to pay for meals and still peeks back at us from the ATM slot.
In fact, the Queen’s image is so ubiquitous on our currency that sometimes we don’t even notice her. And yet, one day, when it’s no longer there, and we see a different monarch staring back at us from the side of a coin — or, if the monarchy is abolished in Canada, perhaps it’ll be a hockey player, or Celine Dion on there — her absence will feel monumental.
They say that money talks. In the case of Canadian currency, it tells the life story of one of the most remarkable figures of the last century.
June 2012: HRH Elizabeth — Celebrating 60 Years of Her Reign
This year royal watchers are eagerly anticipating the Queen’s unprecedented Platinum Jubilee. But in the spring of 2012, it was Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee that was on everyone’s mind. And to mark the milestone, Zoomer’s June 2012 issue featured a very Canadian portrait of the Queen alongside a silhouetted moose, all created by legendary artist Charles Pachter.
“At this point people were already saying, ‘Wow, she’s still going,’” Boyd says of the Queen at that time. “And with so much energy and so much drive. And you know, it was such an accomplishment after the hard years the Royal Family had in the ’90s that she was there at the top of popularity.”
The decision to celebrate Her Majesty with a Pachter portrait came as a no-brainer.
“Charles Pachter — I mean, he’s our Warhol,” Boyd notes. “The way he’s just taken these symbols of Canadiana and made them into pop art, starting with the flag. And then I absolutely love this idea of the Queen of the North — the antlers and the moose together with the Queen.”
Boyd says that, while there’s humour in Pachter’s portraits, “it’s also quite deep when you talk about the relationship of Canada and the monarchy. So we had never done a painting [on the cover] before, and we haven’t done one since, but I’m really glad we did that cover because it shows the Queen in a way only Canadians can while talking about how she’s inspired art and culture.”
Inside the issue, Zoomer celebrated Her Majesty with multiple stories, including an interview with Pachter in which he discussed, among other things, his controversial decision to paint the Queen riding a moose (alongside his various portraits of Her Majesty); a reflection on the Queen’s coronation by Canadian royal authority John Fraser; and a walk in the footsteps of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — the woman who will be queen.
May 2016: Queen Elizabeth II at 90 — In Full Bloom and Still Hard at Work
Exactly two years after Prince Charles appeared on the cover of Zoomer’s May 2014 issue, the Queen graced the cover of our May 2016 issue.
The occasion: the monarch’s 90th birthday. And while most nonagenarians are enjoying well-earned R&R, the Queen was still working away — as evidenced by the cover photo featuring her famous red box, which contains important documents from throughout the Commonwealth and around the world that require her attention and signature.
“She’s now 90, and we thought it was really important to show her because there’s so many ways you can show the Queen: country woman, sovereign, grandmother. But, really the fact that she has always been a working woman,” Boyd explains. “And the red boxes are legendary, right? They come to wherever she is and she has to go through them. Her father taught her how to do it. So there’s a lot of mythology wrapped in the red box.”
The cover image was photographed by Mary McCartney, daughter of Paul and Linda, which Boyd notes carried its own significance. Linda McCartney was, of course, an accomplished photographer, while Paul McCartney — who received a knighthood in 1997 — remains a staunch supporter of the Queen whose reverence for the monarch dates back to his childhood when, at age 10, he took part in an essay contest for which he wrote about “our lovely young queen” ahead of Her Majesty’s coronation.
“So [it’s] the fact that it’s his daughter doing the picture — a female photographer — and just seeing the Queen as a working woman” that gives the photo its resonance, Boyd says. She adds that there’s also “the wonderful brooch, the femininity [the idea] of the garden, the floral dress. We just thought it was a real moment, especially at 90, because she’s looking so beautiful and hard at work.”
Boyd adds that Prince Charles’ idea of a slimmed-down monarchy began taking root around the time of the June 2012 issue, with the Charles Pachter Queen cover, when, during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, only Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, and Harry appeared on the balcony with Her Majesty to wave to adoring fans. Prince Philip, then-90, was MIA, in the hospital with a bladder infection — the first of the health issues that he would deal with until the end of his life. And now, four years later, the cover line “Her legacy and her influence on the next-gen royals” signalled another shift.
“I think it’s interesting that we’re already talking about the next generation of royals,” Boyd says, pointing to the shifts in the Royal Family dynamic — and the exit of Harry and Meghan from royal duties — that were still to come. “That innocent cover line is kind of foreshadowing what’s happening with the next generation.”
Inside the issue, journalist Shinan Govani decoded why the Royal Family still reigns supreme in popular culture, while we also looked at the history of the Queen’s visits to Canada.
September 2017: Special Tribute Issue – Her Majesty the Queen at 91 and Prince Philip at 96
Eight years after Bryan Adams’ portrait of the Queen appeared on Zoomer’s April 2009 cover, another photo from the same shoot — this time featuring both Her Majesty and Prince Philip — graced this special tribute edition of the magazine.
“These were never before seen images,” Boyd notes. “So this was another Zoomer exclusive.”
The issue featured a cover story by journalist Elizabeth Renzetti on Her Majesty’s uncanny ability to continually keep calm and carry on — a sense of fortitude and duty that was put to the test four years later, when she sat alone, during a global pandemic, at Philip’s funeral.
But while Philip’s passing last year highlighted the irreplaceable bond that the Duke of Edinburgh shared with the Queen during their 74-year marriage, this cover — published in the royal couple’s 70th anniversary year — served as a nod to that fact.
“This is when we acknowledged how important Prince Philip was to her reign,” Boyd says. “It was really to celebrate Prince Philip. And Bryan took the photo of him standing behind the Queen because that’s what he’d done in public for years.”
In addition to the cover story on the Queen, the issue featured an excerpt from No Remedy For Love, the 2017 memoir by classical guitarist Liona Boyd in which she discussed her decades-long correspondence with Prince Philip.
January/February 2021: Happy New Year Ma’am – Celebrating Her Majesty Ahead of Her 95th Birthday
The most recent Zoomer cover featuring the Queen arrived at the beginning of 2021, just ahead of her 95th birthday.
The image of the Queen in a white dress pinned with the Insignia of Canada medal and photographed by photographer Chris Jackson — the three-time Royal Photographer of the Year and the royal photographer for Getty Images — served as her official Canadian portrait. It also arrived at what would prove a crossroads in the Queen’s life.
Just a few months earlier, the monarch had completed a national pandemic address from Buckingham Palace in which, as this issue’s Zoomer cover story, “Long May She Reign,” noted, she “applaud[ed] front-line workers and urge[d] her subjects to stay resolute in the face of lockdown restrictions, evoking Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime song of hope and optimism and Britain’s resolute response to the Blitz. ‘We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’”
The allusion to the Second World War proved a savvy move as well, evoking the time period when the public first fell in love with the Windor family.
And yet a few months later she’d face her own most personal crisis — the loss of her beloved husband, Prince Philip. All the while scandal swirled around her son Prince Andrew, Harry and Meghan’s acrimonious exit and the Queen herself, after suffering from health issues, began making her own cryptic remarks about how, “None of us can slow the passage of time” and “None of us will live forever.”
And yet Her Majesty remains, through it all, a shining example of aging with grace and dignity.
The issue also featured journalist Shinan Govani’s look at the real-life history of the Queen and the Royal Family at their Balmoral Estate in conjunction with The Crown’s then-latest season depicting it on the small screen, as well as our royal expert Leanne Delap looking at palace style alongside an excerpt from the book HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Fashion by Elizabeth Holmes.
But ultimately, as it’s always been, in the end it all comes back to the Queen.
As Boyd notes about this cover, “She still always rises above. She had already rallied the nation with her COVID speech. It’s the Queen at the height of her powers … It was a great time to celebrate her, still riding horses, still working, still doing all that.”