'Lost' portrait of Elizabeth I as a young princess found

A rare portrait of Queen Elizabeth I as a princess has been discovered in a private collection, it was revealed today.

The rare find shows Elizabeth as a teenager alongside her siblings Edward VI and Mary I, father Henry VIII and his jester Will Somers.

The portrait – a copy of an extremely rare original – was discovered in the Duke of Buccleuch's private collection at Boughton House in Northamptonshire.

It will now be put on display at the stately home and historians behind the find hope to trace the original through publicising their discovery.

Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I before her accession to the throne are extremely rare, and only two other proven portraits known – one at Hampton Court and one at Windsor Castle.

It has been examined by historians Alison Weir and Tracy Borman, after they were informed of its existence by the director of Boughton House.

Ms Borman said when she was first sent a picture of the portrait she realised it had never been seen before.

She said: "The more we found out, the more obvious it was that nobody had come across this. It was a lost portrait.

"It's clearly a copy of a lost original and it's that mystery that we started to try and solve.

"We have traced the original back to the 18th century, and then it disappeared."

The new find is a copy dating to around 1650-80 of an original panel painting thought to date back to the early 1550s. It gives a rare early glimpse of the woman who was to become one of the most painted monarchs in history.

Historians also think the new image suggests that the much-debated picture of the "unknown lady" at the National Portrait Gallery and other inconclusive portraits at Syon House, Audley End and Berry Hill, are also all portraits of Elizabeth as a princess.

The house manager at Boughton House, Charles Lister, said the find would go on display when the stately home opened in August.

He said: "We knew it was important because it's a picture of Henry VIII and his family but we did not realise it in the context of Elizabeth as a princess."