London

David Hockney to design Queen's Westminster Abbey window

British artist David Hockney stands by his oil painting "Bigger Trees Near Warter" Image copyright Dan Kitwood
Image caption David Hockney is seen as the "most appropriate choice" for the design after being awarded the Order of Merit by the Queen

Artist David Hockney is to design a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the Queen's reign.

The artist, who once turned down the chance to paint the monarch because he was too busy, said he has "planned a landscape full of blossom that's a celebration every year".

The 20ft (6.1m) x 6ft (1.8m) window in the abbey's north transept will be known as The Queen's Window.

The cost is being covered by two anonymous benefactors.

Elizabeth II marked her 90th birthday this year and in 2015 became the nation's longest reigning monarch, before last month becoming the world's longest reigning monarch, following the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Image copyright Westminster Abbey/Alan Williams
Image caption Hockney's design will be installed in one of the Westminster Abbey's few remaining clear windows, in the north transept

A Westminster Abbey spokesman said Hockney was chosen as he was "probably the greatest contemporary British artist".

Given that he has "been awarded the Order of Merit by the Queen" he was the "most appropriate choice" for the commission, the spokesman added.

Hockney "will have pretty much free rein because he's David Hockney", but he will be given guidance by abbey officials.

"We're as interested as everyone else to see what he comes up with," the spokesman added.

"The Queen is certainly aware of the proposal and there will be continual briefings from us."

Image copyright Alys Tomlinson
Image caption The project will join a stained glass window celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, installed in the abbey two years ago

Born in Bradford, Hockney has been an internationally-renowned painter since the early 1960s, when he established himself as one of the leaders of British pop art.

Over the years he has extended his talents to work as a photographer, draughtsman, printmaker and stage designer.

After turning down the chance to paint the monarch because he was "too busy", he finally painted her in 2012, composing an image of the Diamond Jubilee river pageant on an iPad as he watched it on TV.

The window is scheduled to be installed by June 2018, to coincide with the planned opening of the Queen's Jubilee Gallery in the abbey.

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