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A few months ago, esteemed photographer Annie Leibovitz went to Windsor Castle to snap some exclusive shots of the Queen, in celebration of her 90th birthday. The pics were gorgeous and featured Her Majesty on the steps of the East Terrace and East Garden; she and her daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal on a couch in the White Drawing Room; and the Queen and the youngest royals, with Princess Charlotte on her lap and Mia Tindall holding her great-grandmum’s handbag. We thought those were something special. But actually, Leibovitz saved the best for Vanity Fair.

It’s the magazine’s summer issue so they could’ve easily showcased some hot young thing showing off whatever hot young things show off. Instead, Vanity Fair decided to put Elizabeth II on their cover. It may seem a little late considering her actual birthday was over a month ago, but since Her Majesty celebrates her birth with the rest of the world in June (this year on June 11), the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair

Not that we didn’t love the shots we’ve already seen, but these new ones will blow you away. There’s the cover, which beautifully showcases Elizabeth and her dogs once again. And our hands-down favourite: Elizabeth and Prince Philip, in the Oak Sitting Room, looking like the perfect match that they are.

Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair

The best part about the piece, however, isn’t so much the pics (which are definitely glorious) but what Leibovitz had to say about the Queen.

“The most moving, important thing about this shoot is that these were all her ideas,” said Leibovitz. “She wanted to be photographed with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren; her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; her daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal; and her corgis. I was told how relaxed she was at Windsor, and it was really true. You get the sense of how at peace she was with herself, and very much enthralled with her family.”

Of course she knew exactly how she wanted to be photographed. She isn’t the head of the British Monarchy for nothing.

Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair