The 3rd Annual Zoomer List: Canada’s Top 45 Over 45: Phil Richards

Phil Richards, 61, Artist

The Toronto-based artist admits he had dreamed of painting an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. His dream came true when he was commissioned by the Government of Canada to create the Diamond Jubilee Portrait. Richards submitted his work for consideration and the Queen made the final decision, choosing him to create the new portrait. He says that when the Queen unveiled the painting, she paused, turned to him and said, “Philip, this has changed. This has changed quite a bit since I last saw it.” His response was, “Yes, it went from six inches to this.” – this being the much larger nine by six feet unframed. The Queen then turned to Governor General David Johnston and asked, “Are you going to have to rebuild Rideau Hall to get it in?” His reply? “I think we can find a spot for it.” Indeed, he did; the painting hangs on the main wall of the Ballroom of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, which is the site of many official ceremonies and one accessible to all Canadians; so much so that some call it the Heart of Canada. “The opportunity to meet and work with Queen Elizabeth II was certainly a high point … she was fully engaged in the development of the portrait, which made my task of painting her image that much easier.”