“Obviously, I didn’t realise I would win,” says Edward Roberts, a second-year graphic and communications design student at Leeds University, who designed the emblem for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations after entering a nationwide competition last year.
Run jointly by the Royal Household and the V&A, the competition was judged by typographer and graphic designer Margaret Calvert, designer Yinka Ilori MBE and V&A director Tristram Hunt. Edward’s winning design was chosen from hundreds of entries sent in by people aged between 13 and 25. It now appears on all national and international merchandising and media relating to the Platinum Jubilee, from stamps to billboards, and goes on show on 1 June at the V&A alongside designs by the runners-up.
Roberts says he is “honoured to be given the opportunity to produce something for such a momentous occasion”. His emblem combines the number 70 with a drawing of the St Edward’s Crown, the centrepiece of the UK’s crown jewels that was worn by Her Majesty Elizabeth II on her coronation day in 1953. Rendered in a continuous line drawing, his treatment, he says, “felt a fitting representation of the continuity of the Queen’s reign”. Its shape recalls a royal seal, and its colour takes from Elizabeth II’s coronation gown.
Speaking from his home in Nottinghamshire, the 19-year-old says he has always been drawn to the “problem solving” aspect of design, particularly logo work. “I thought I might as well really put effort into producing something I liked, and see how far it got.” Roberts was on a call with The Lord Chamberlain when he found out he had won. “It was such a surprise, I was under the impression that we were discussing my design as one of the top 10. My mum Sally was sat opposite me and I’d told her about the competition when I first saw it being announced on The One Show. To see her reaction when I found out I’d won was just lovely. She nearly fell off her chair.”
His chief consideration was creating something both contemporary and appropriate to the occasion. “A lot of royal symbols are very traditional. That’s something I was cautious about changing,” he says. “A crown, for instance, is often viewed in a fairly old-fashioned way, and I definitely wanted to try to bring that into the 21st century.” The notion of continuity was key to a sense of meaning behind the emblem. “And there’s an element of delicacy, and intricacy,” he says. “I didn’t want it to be overbearing.”
As his academic year draws to a close, Roberts is preparing for a year in industry with leading design agency AKQA, but the scale of this achievement doesn’t seem to have gone to his head. “This has brought with it opportunities, such as my work being displayed in the V&A, which I never thought would happen. But I’m very much still a university student. So I’ll keep my head down and continue with my studies. Then we’ll see what happens after that, I guess.”