Grafitti Artist Bambi Paints Jubilee Tribute to the Queen

TIME meets the female Banksy bringing royalty to London's streets

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Bambi; Photo: Ruth Corney

Secretive London-based street artist, Bambi - hailed as the upcoming, female Banksy - has painted a Diamond Jubilee tribute on Pickering Street in the North London suburb of Islington. The piece by the anonymous artist depicts Queen Elizabeth II as a young woman on her throne, as the "Queen of Diamonds," with the legend: "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" - the title of the piece.

Bambi, an anonymous London street artist in her early 30s, hailed by many as the female Banksy, has taken the Jubilee’s pomp and ceremony to a gritty suburban London street with a piece of graffiti she secretly painted two weeks ago. It has the tagline, ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,’ and depicts a young Queen Elizabeth II on the throne as the Queen of Diamonds playing card.

Perhaps improbably for an edgy, urban street artist, Bambi—her street name derives from her father calling her “Bambino” as a child—suggests she is an ardent monarchist: “Obviously everybody’s going to have street parties, so I really wanted to do something for the Queen on the street, and I actually quite like the Queen, the royal family and all that. They are part of our culture; they represent us. Buckingham Palace is fantastic.”

(MORE: The Stamp of Queen Elizabeth’s Influence)

The piece, which has been spray-painted as a tribute to the Diamond Jubilee on Pickering Street in the North London suburb of Islington, makes Bambi something of a royalist graffiti aficionado. Last year she spray-painted Will and Kate (before they became the esteemed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) on a London wall. The earlier piece carried the tagline, ‘A bit like Marmite,’ hinting at the divisive nature of the royal family in Britain, as the iconic British yeast spread is known by the slogan: “You either love it or hate it.” (The spread has been re-branded “Ma’amite” specially for the Jubilee—after “Ma’am,” the formal address for the Queen.)

Why has Bambi chosen to portray the royals through such an incongruous medium? She explains that, “It’s taking the extraordinary person and making them ordinary. Taking the Queen onto the street—that kind of juxtaposition just makes it accessible, makes people smile.”

Bambi is also the talk of the showbiz world. She has sold works to Take That’s Mark Owen, and Adele commissioned a painting of Amy Winehouse. Robbie Williams recently shelled out £30,000 for a piece depicting a baby, for his young daughter. Bambi’s current list of clients also includes Rihanna, who has requested a portrait series of herself, and David Dimbleby, a British BBC political broadcaster, who has shown interest in a print of a little old lady tagged ‘Make Tea Not War’.

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