Hilarious 21st-Century Portraits and Bios of 20 Historical Figures

Someone decided to portray how many historical figures would look today. Someone else shared exactly what they look like they'd be doing in the 21st century, and it's too funny.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jan. 27 2020, Updated 1:06 p.m. ET

We don't really know exactly what people looked like if they were alive before the invention of the camera. Sure, we have sculptures and paintings, but it can be hard to translate those artistic ventures into realistic renderings of a person that once was. Thus, there are many, many famous historical figures we don't actually have a clear pictures of. Someone tried to fix that. 

Graphic designer Becca Saladin started the @royalty_now_ Instagram account, where she takes old artist renderings of historical figures and takes a few liberties to update their looks for the 21st century. Dr. Gillian Kenny found the account quite entertaining. She took Becca's updated portraits of historical figures and absolutely nailed the descriptions of what it looks like they'd be up to these days. 

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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar most definitely looks like he walks around a conference room with a coffee in his hand saying things like, "We've got to optimize the ROI" and "Here at Google, we're a family. And this family needs you to stay until 11 p.m. tonight working on the rollout." He drives a Tesla, and he talks about it all the time.

Anne Boleyn

Oh my goodness, this is so true. She is also, unfortunately, clearly a lifestyle influencer whose job seems to be going to yoga classes and posting ads for the most disgusting plant-based snacks money can buy. Maybe she crafts, too. Whatever she does, she's insufferable about it.

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Poor Napoleon has worked so hard to be successful, but he's learned too late that the fancy car, the giant house, and the nice suits mean nothing if you have no one to share them with. In the process of a messy divorce from his wife, Napoleon is now determined to be a better father than he's ever been before.

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Alexander the Great

What a vapid, beautiful boy. Alexander the Great truly looks less like a legendary military commander and king and more like the dude in your high school chemistry class who accidentally caused an explosion and then was like, "Haha, whoops." 

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Louis XV

Here's the thing. I know Louis XV. He drives a BMW and thinks things will all work out as long as there's a foosball table and free coconut water in the office. He's got big ideas, but none of them are as important to him as his hair, which he's constantly fixing. Likes a nice suit. Wishes he could grow a beard.

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Elizabeth I

I feel like Elizabeth I and Louis XV used to work together in the early days. But she's a designer and he's on the business side of things, and eventually she moved on to a magazine. Well, the online version. She's been steadily working her way up the professional ladder, but she lives alone and doesn't have many friends and hasn't been in a relationship in like, six years. It's the NYC loneliness, baby, and Elizabeth I's got it. 

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Abraham Lincoln

This is pretty perfect. I would also add that good ol' Abe gets his kids every other weekend, and he desperately tries to make them love him, but they're at that age where everything their dad says and does is super embarrassing. Intellectually, he knows this is just a phase, but it causes him a lot of anxiety.

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Benjamin Franklin

Eventually, some other people started joining Dr. Kenny in the effort to describe these modern-day takes on historical figures, and I have to say, I love this game. I wish it would go on forever. Also Benjamin Franklin is Billy Joel. I will not be taking questions at this time. It's just the truth.

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Henry VIII

To me, Henry VIII looks like your high school health teacher who thinks he's really cool and has a good rapport with the students, but really they mercilessly make fun of him behind his back. Then one day someone puts a "kick me" sign on his back, and when he finds it, he loses it and gives everyone detention. From that day forward, everyone's terrified of him.

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Mary, Queen of Scots

It is crazy how much Saoirse Ronan looks like Mary, Queen of Scots. Good thing the Lady Bird star also starred as Mary, Queen of Scots in the movie, Mary Queen of Scots. That's what we call good casting.

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It's sad but true. This Egyptian queen, in the 21st century, would no longer be the wealthiest ruler in all the land. Instead, she'd be following leads all over the country, eating late-night room-service cheeseburgers in hotels in the middle of nowhere, and breaking huge stories that publications wouldn't pay her for until she spent months emailing and threatening legal action.

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Cleopatra VII

While Dr. Kenny's thread ended too soon, Becca's Instagram is chock full of updated historical figure portraits. So I thought I'd take a crack at a few on my own! And oh wow, Cleopatra clearly works in corporate for Sweetgreen, in the marketing department. She does pilates four times a week and her favorite thing in the world to do is to stir drama in her group of friends. She's like an Olympic-level athlete when it comes to starting crap.

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Emperor Augustus

Augustus truly believes he's a "nice guy," and that's the most accurate thing I can say about him. He also believes he's god's gift to improv, even though no one ever wants to be in scenes with him and he steamrolls everything all the time. If Augustus has never trapped you in a corner and recommended you read Infinite Jest, consider yourself lucky.

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Prince Albert

Prince Albert co-founded an independent coffee roasting business with his platonic female friend he's secretly been in love with since college. He handles the business side of things while she's more about the beans and the product design. They're gaining traction selling to local cafés, but Albert has big plans. Oh also, he always goes by Albert, never Al or Bert. Get it straight.

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Christina of Denmark

Christina married a rich developer, but she's also now unfortunately the stepmother to his two young, precocious twin daughters. Filthy little girls who are always playing tricks on her. The second she can, she's going to ship them off to boarding school, and then she and her husband can finally live the life of luxury they've always dreamed.

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Caligula is the most famous bratty Roman emperor of all time. And while his statue bears a striking resemblance to Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones, his updated portrait makes him look like the nerdy kid in your high school who was decidedly not cool but was nevertheless super mean to everybody. He thought the fact that he was a nationally ranking mathlete made him a better person, and he was wrong.

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Katherine of Aragon

Katherine of Aragon is actually a long-suffering suburban mother who regrets giving up her career in journalism to raise her kids but can't see a way back into the fold now. She smokes cigarettes out her bedroom window when her husband is away, making sure to spray perfume to mask the smell when she's done. She loves her kids; she wouldn't trade them for the world. But she longs for something more.

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Henry VII

Henry VII is an art dealer, but he doesn't get art, he just likes the thrill of the game. He's got a distinctly Patrick Bateman vibe going on, and people find him totally creepy, but he thinks he's killing it. He likes looking at himself in the mirror more than he likes doing literally anything else.

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Agrippina the Younger

You know those bridezillas that are always posting to Reddit being like, "My friend was supposed to be in my bridal party, but then she went and got cancer and now she looks super sick and I don't want her ruining my perfect photos"? That's Agrippina the Younger. 

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Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour is your wildest, most unpredictable friend. She'll invite you to parties and then abandon you at 3 a.m. in a Brooklyn warehouse. She's got drug hookups like you wouldn't believe, and you're pretty sure she has multiple sugar daddies. She definitely doesn't have a job, so it's either sugar daddies or rich parents...or both. Jane is a hot mess, but you can't deny she's a fun one. 

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