Renaissance rocker Bryan Adams remembers photographing Queen Elizabeth II

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·2 min read

Bryan Adams is a true Renaissance man. The rocker isn’t just a platinum-selling recording artist — he’s also an award-winning photographer who has published six coffee table books, and whose stunning portraits have run in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Bazaar, GQ, and Esquire.

Adams is so established in this second career, in fact, that 20 years ago he was commissioned to photograph the U.K.’s Queen Elizabeth II — who died Sept. 8, 2022, at age 96 — for her Golden Jubilee. And while he only got five minutes of shoot time with Her Majesty, his most iconic image from that session — a surprisingly candid, relaxed shot — was actually featured on a postage stamp in his native Canada.

Bryan Adams holds a large replica of a new stamp honoring Queen Elizabeth II at a 2003 ceremony Ottawa, Canada. (Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)
Bryan Adams holds a large replica of a new stamp honoring Queen Elizabeth II at a 2003 ceremony Ottawa, Canada. (Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)

Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment earlier this year when releasing his most recent studio album, So Happy It Hurts, Adams chuckled as he recalled learning about the once-in-a-lifetime assignment from his new agent at the time.

“They called me and said, ‘Would you like to represent Canada and photograph the Queen?’ Well, actually the original conversation was: ‘Are you free on Wednesday?’ And I said, ‘Yeah... why?’ He goes, ‘Would you like to photograph the Queen?’ I said, ‘Where would that be?’ And he says, ‘Oh, it would be her house.’”

Of course, “her house” wasn’t just any typical house. “So, that picture you see is actually one of the foyers of entrance, the foyer to the garden of the back of Buckingham Palace,” Adams revealed.

That specific photo was actually a last-minute addition to Adams’s session with the Queen. “I asked her to sit there because she was about to leave, and all the photographers that work with her get five minutes … And as she was leaving, I said, ‘Ma'am, do you mind just sitting on the chair for a moment?’

"And there's some Wellington boots in the corner of the picture. She looked over at them, and then looked back at me — and then that was the picture.”

Adams is used to photographing — and sharing the stage with — A-list celebrities, but it would be understandable if this historic assignment had made him nervous. But he kept calm and carried on.

"She was very at ease and made me feel comfortable,” Adams recalled with a smile. “I hope I did the same.”

Queen Elizabeth II chats with Bryan Adams in 2002. (Photo: Reuters/Peter Bregg/MacLeans Magazine)
Queen Elizabeth II chats with Bryan Adams in 2002. (Photo: Reuters/Peter Bregg/MacLeans Magazine)

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— Video produced by Jen Kucsak, edited by Jimmie Rhee