Artist envisions Queen Elizabeth II and Philip reunited in death in viral sketch

LONDON — As news circulated around the world that Queen Elizabeth II’s health was deteriorating, a British illustrator picked up a pack of watercolor pencils and started sketching.

Kerri Cunningham, an artist and mother of three from Lancashire in England, sketched the Queen’s late husband, Prince Philip, sitting on a picnic blanket, his arm lovingly placed around his wife’s back. She penciled a corgi next to them and a bright blue sky above them. There were three words under the image that would soon go viral with news of the queen’s death hours later: “Hello again Lilibet.”

When Buckingham Palace made the official announcement that Britain’s longest-serving monarch had died aged 96, Cunningham was putting one of his three children to bed. The image, which she uploaded to her Instagram account, began to travel far and wide. It resonated with tens of thousands of people, who quickly began asking where they could purchase a copy.

“I love that you put your kids to bed with no idea what’s going on on your Instagram,” read a text message sent to Cunningham that evening.

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The image – which has nearly 400,000 likes on Instagram and has been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter – was inspired by a picture she once saw of the Queen, Philip and three of their children taking a holiday to the Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Cunningham told Washington. Job.

It was 1960, and together they were lounging on a plaid blanket. A corgi, one of the Queen’s many beloved dogs, was also present.

Cunningham said she couldn’t stop thinking about this photo as she sketched, adding that her goal was to get the royal couple – who had been married for over 70 years – back ‘together again on their little blanket’ .

Cunningham said she was surprised but also “really touched” by the reaction to her artwork, which she drew while wearing her “mom jeans” at her kitchen table.

The 34-year-old said the death of the Queen has made many around the world reflect on the loss of their own grandparents. Many people told her they were emotional at the idea of ​​the royal couple reuniting.

As a child, the Queen struggled to pronounce her name, often fumbling around – much to the amusement of family members, who started calling her “Lilibet”, according to British media. The nickname stuck with her throughout her life and also became one of her husband’s nicknames for her.

“Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world that is absolutely real to me,” Philip wrote to the Queen Mother in a note shortly after marrying her daughter Elizabeth in 1947.

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Prince Harry, one of the Queen’s eight grandchildren, called his daughter ‘Lilibet Diana’, a nod to his late paternal grandmother Princess Diana and her great-grandmother , Queen Elizabeth.

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Cunningham is finally selling copies, and all proceeds, she says, will go to a leading children’s charity.

Cunningham said she has long used Instagram as a platform to share her art, although she usually draws about parenthood. Her posts often talk about overflowing laundry baskets and the joys – and hardships – of being a mother.

She’s a little worried now that her tens of thousands of new followers might consider her account royal. “They might be a little surprised,” she laughed, admitting there were as many poems as inspirational sketches.

What about the original drawing? “It goes in the closet,” Cunningham said, “away from the spaghetti-stained hands of children.”

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