Construction of an Icon: A Triumphal Procession

A rare and marvellous guest will be coming to Greenwich on Friday 12 April 2019

Find out more about the event.

Following in the footsteps of 16th-century public entertainments which allowed the monarch to see and be seen, Elizabeth I (multi award-winning performer Christopher Green) will lead a dignified, joyful and gracious procession from the Queen’s House at Royal Museums Greenwich to the National Portrait Gallery in central London.

Elizabeth I from her birth at Greenwich Palace was constantly challenged by expectations of her gender. The Armada Portrait defines Elizabeth at possibly the height of her reign in which she defines herself beyond gender: she will not marry and give birth to the heir to the English throne, defying convention. Instead she represents the body politic as both Prince and Queen. Chris Green is an actor and performer who has created powerful female and male characters but in his words:

 My female characters are characters…gender is at the heart of where we’re at as a society and it’s important to question that constantly. People have been doing that for centuries so it’s nothing new, but it’s where the change is going to happen.

A Soulful 21st century masque, with a new Anthem for the people composed by Peter Adjaye 

The Onipa (People's) anthem is an original composition by Peter Adjaye, created specifically for Construction of an Icon, to be sung by London community choirs and members of the public. The piece, inspired by the Armada Portrait and Tudor trumpeter John Blanke, re- imagines the triumphal procession for the 21st century. It acknowledges the many voices and stories which have been hidden in the telling and writing of British and European history.  In Peter's words, this is an anthem about giving and sharing power, joy and celebration

A creative design and a communities’ project, to offer new ways to share histories of Elizabeth I and bring the Armada Portrait to life

The Queen will be joined and accompanied by members of the Amies Freedom Choir who will sing along the route and introduce the public to the Onipa (People’s) Anthem, which is written to complement all voices of any age, dialect and timbre.

Designer, Bronya Arciszewska and Oliver Cronk collaborated with students from the London College of Fashion, The Courtauld Institute, and a wide range of designers and makers at different stages of their careers, together they have created layer by layer, a 21st- century costume based on meticulous research of the Armada portrait.

A fanfare that recalls and remembers the Tudor Trumpeter John Blanke led by Randolph Matthews

John Blanke was a black trumpeter in the courts of both Henry VII and Henry VIII, who played at important state occasions. A plaque commemorating him can be found in the Greenwich Visitor Centre, as he is known to have played at Greenwich Palace.  The presence of African people in the stories of circumnavigation, voyages between continents, trade, innovation and artistic expression in the 16th century are beginning to be told and shared. John Blanke's contribution and value in the story of Britain deserves to be re-imagined and celebrated.

The Armada Portrait Curator, Matilda Pye states that:  The Museum has a purpose to create new work, which is brave, coherent, passionate and collaborative.  Construction of an Icon celebrates these values. Through collaboration and conversations with artists, designers and performers at different stages of their careers, we are creating and sharing new interpretations of the Armada Portrait.

About the day

You can join us to bid the Queen on her way or learn the anthem at the following locations:

  • 10.30 - 11.15   The Queen’s House, Royal Museums Greenwich
  • 11.15 - 11.30  The Great Court, Water Gates, The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Or join us to welcome the Queen in song and celebration at

  • 15.00 -15.30    The North Terrace in Trafalgar Square (outside the National Gallery)
  • 15.30 – 17.30 The National Portrait Gallery

Construction of an Icon has been commissioned by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund UK.

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