The only portrait of Queen Elizabeth II for her Platinum Jubilee was made by a Polish painter

Barbara Kaczmarowska Hamilton is a Polish portraitist who has lived and worked in London for several decades. Originating from Sopot, she graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk.

The young Barbara Kaczmarowska came to pay a visit to her friends in London and… stayed. She married a Scot, Ian Hamilton, with whom she has 2 sons – Feliks and Maksymilian. Over the years, the artist has painted numerous portraits of famous people. When it comes to the Polish milieu in London the list includes, among others, prince Sapieha, Maria Sapieżyna, prince Eugeniusz Lubomirski, ambassador Edward Raczyński, and Irena Anders. It’s difficult to count them all. 

Barbara Hamilton Kaczmarowska in her studio

It is through painting that the Polish artist managed to reach the British aristocracy. Today she is viewed as “the unofficial portraitist of the English royal family” because there are many Windsors among the people she has painted. The first member of the royal family she ever portrayed was Prince Michael. The painting was so popular that additional orders were made. So far the most important (and the “most favourite”, as the painter often emphasizes – editor’s note) has been the portrait of the Queen Mother. The artist got to know the Queen during a meeting at the Castle of Mey in Caithness, in the north of Scotland. In the neighbourhood, the estate of her husband’s sister could be found, which facilitated the development of their relationship. The Queen was 101 at the time of the portrait. The painting is now hanging at the Sikorski Institute in London.

Barbara Hamilton paints the Queen Mother]

The artist also painted the Duke of Kent, Princess Anne, Duchess of York (Fergie), and her daughters. The list of portraits is really long, you can read more about it on the website

The Duke of Kent

[The Duchess of York (Fergie)
On the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee, Barbara Hamilton was honoured to be invited to Windsor Castle in order to paint Queen Elizabeth II. The 70th anniversary of the Queen’s reign is celebrated in the UK very solemnly. The special events for the occasion lasted four days. After all, 96-year-old Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She ascended the throne in February 1952 after the death of her father, George VI. She was crowned on June 2, 1952, exactly 70 years ago.

Barbara Hamilton told British Poles that she had received a very warm welcome at Windsor Castle. The dresser presented her with numerous Queen dresses with accessories, including famous brooches. Barbara chose a beautiful pink dress in which the Queen looked great.

Barbara Hamilton and the Duke of Kent next to the Queen Mother’s portrait]

The Queen turned out to be a very warm, cheerful, and… talkative person. The conversation was mostly about art. The Queen appreciated being painted by the Polish artist. The parents of the Duke of Kent (the father of the Duke of Kent and the father of the Queen were brothers – ed.) welcomed the Koziełł-Poklewski family in their property in Coppins in Iver, Buckinghamshire after the war. It was the beginning of a great friendship between both families. Vincent became the prince’s closest friend, both young men practically grew up together. Since then, a genuine sympathy towards Poland and Poles has been maintained not only by the prince but also by the entire royal family. The Duke of Kent is the patron of the Polish Hearth Club and the Polish Ball, and the Queen herself was a guest at the Polish Ognisko in London (at the entrance you can still see photos commemorating this event).

Princess Anna

Barbara Hamilton completed the portrait in her London studio in South Kensington. The Queen had already seen the finished portrait in the photo and wished it to be hung at Windsor Castle where she will be able to admire it. She likes it very much. Barbara Hamilton made it exactly for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The author of the article, with the Queen’s portrait in the background

Congratulations! We are proud that the Polish painter was able to make Queen Elizabeth II such a great gift for the Platinum Jubilee.

Author: Maria Byczynski

Images: British Poles,

Translation: Sébastien Meuwissen)