At the German capitulation on May 7th 1945 London was full of Allied spies, special soldiers and agents, both women and men, from all over the world.
During these days a members club for this personnel was founded, named the Special Forces Club. Legendary personalities from all Allied countries' resistance movements became the members, and HM Queen Elizabeth, wife of HM King George VI, granted the Club her patronage.
At her death in 2002 HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, took over the patronage of the Club.
In March 2020 members from the Club commissioned Kolby to paint an official portrait of Her Majesty The Queen to commemorate the unique WWII bonds between Great Britain and Norway.
The portrait was carried out in close cooperation with Buckingham Palace, and it was gifted to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador's Residence in London. The location was natural, as King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav stayed at the Residence and held State Councils with their Norwegian government-in-exile during the war.
On 22 March 2022 The Princess Royal fronted the presentation of the portrait of Her Majesty at the Resicence in 10 Palace Green hosted by Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen. Attending the seremony were guests from the Special Forces Club, the Armed Forces, the Embassy and family and friends of Kolby.
The Norwegian Armed Forces Magazine was present and published this story:
Kolby filled the portrait with symbols and elements telling the story of Britain's and Norway's WWII bonds.
To the left - the Norwegian side of the painting - is seen a curling band with an excerpt from King Haakon VII's speech to the Norwegians on their national day May 17th 1940. This was in the midst of his fleeing from the German troops, and he and his government were miraculously escaping bombings and terror from Hitler's special soldiers. Their orders were to kill the King and his government.
Kolby depicted the King and Crown Prince standing in the Norwegain mountainside during the flight. Leading over to the right - the British side of the painting - is the North Sea where a small fishingboat is struggeling in the rough sea. The boat "Arthur" was the most famous one of the so called "Shetland bus"; some 50 wessels transporting more than 3,500 persons, weapons, intelligence and equipment between the British isles and Norway during the war. The fleet was named after the legendary skipper Leif Larsen.
In the sky above the King and Crown Prince is seen three parachute soldiers having been dropped over Norway by a Halifax bomber plane. These special forces are the symbol of the Club, and many a member was dropped like this over enemy territory after having been trained in Scotland.
Also at the right stands Prime Minister Winston Churchill about to make his famous V-sign. Behind him continues the curling band with an excerpt from his speech on VE Day (Victory Europe Day) 8th May 1945. Behind Churchill is seen the parliament, where he held his important speeches during the war. Kolby painted the Parliament as an hommage to Claude Monet's many paintings of the same building.
Above The Queen is a starry sky, however consisting of letters and not stars. They are from encrypted morse codes sent between Britain and Norway in 1943 in connection with the planning of "Operation Gunnersaide", the legendary sabotage action at Vemork heavy water plant in Norway on February 27th to halt Hitler's plans of developing the atomic bomb.
Her Late Majesty is wearing the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. King Haakon gave her the order in 1955 as she made her first state visit as the newly crowned Queen. She has wore the St. Olav only four times; at her state visits to Norway.
To the unveiling the book Allies was published, consisting of Kolby's nine WWII portraits. With a foreword by His Majesty King Harald and and articles by leading British and Norwegian historians, as well as the British and Norwegian Chief of Defence Staff the texts span a number of central topics from WWII.
On 8 September 2022 Queen Elizabeth died at Balmaoral Castle. Kolby's portrait of The Queen hence became the very last one she personally engaged in.