Look back at the 25 most iconic royal family photos of all time...
As the Queen celebrates her 90th year in 2016, we look back at 26 of the most iconic photos of the British royal family from the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten in 1947 right up to the most recent portrait of The Queen and her eldest son Prince Charles.
Since getting married at the tender age of 21, it was a mere five years later that the princess ascended the throne after the death of her father King George VI in 1952 and since then, the Queen has presided over no less than 14 British Prime Ministers.
But it’s not just the Queen herself who has taken centre stage in the public during her reign, the Queen’s own children and their children – and even their children – in turn have provided us with some pretty iconic moments over the years: Charles and Diana’s wedding, William and Kate’s wedding, the birth of Prince George and Princess Charlotte as well as the Jubilee celebrations to name but four.
So test your knowledge and see if you can guess the years on the pictures below…
[And for those of us that were a tad hazy on the finer details and dates of some of the most important historical events for the Windsor family, fans of Netflix’s The Crown will no doubt feel a little more in-the-know about our royal history now and should enjoy tallying up the original pictures with the moments they’ve seen dramatised on the hit show!]
The then Princess Elizabeth was just 21 years old when she wed her 26-year-old naval officer beau – who denounced his title from Prince Phillip of Greece and Denmark, to Lt Phillip Mountbatten, prior to the ceremony. The service took place on 20 November 1947, in front of 2,500 esteemed guests, five years before Elizabeth was proclaimed queen of England. While thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the royal in her ivory silk, Norman Hartnell-designed gown, more than 200 million listeners tuned in to listen on radios around the world. ‘Suddenly to see that golden coach and beautiful horses was marvellous,’ says Lady Pamela Hicks, one of the royal’s eight bridesmaids. ‘Princess Elizabeth with her marvellous complexion and Prince Philip such a devastatingly handsome naval officer. He looked tender, she was adoring. They really were a dream couple.’ (1947)
In a moment that made royal history, the Princess was crowned Queen Elizabeth II of England at Westminster Abbey in London on June 2, 1953.
The Queen travelled to her official coronation ceremony in the royal family’s famous golden state coach, commissioned by George IV. On her head she wore a glittering imperial state crown, which featured 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies, and weighted a whopping 91 kilograms (or 2.0 lb!). (1953)
The Queen, who now owns a string of racehorses and a stud, began her love of racing early, attending Goodwood, Ascot and Aintree frequently during the racing season. (1971)
The Queen, who still keeps corgis to this day, loves nothing more than to walk her numerous corgis in the sprawling grounds of royal abode. (1980)
When Diana Spencer married Prince Charles on 29 July 1981, the wedding pictures became the images that defined an era. The dress, which spawned a decade of meringues, was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel and featured a 25 foot train and 10,000 hand sewn pearls and sequins. The ceremony, held at St Paul’s Cathedral, became the most popular programme ever broadcast, watched by a global television audience of 750 million. Wow. (1981)
Just how cute? Making her mark as a down to earth mother, Princess Diana waved adorable Princes William and Harry off for a new term at the private Wetherby School at Notting Hill Gate in London. (1990)
Aren’t Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie a pair of cuties?! The pair made hearts melt as they posed with their parents at a wedding in Wickham. (1995)
Not only did Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress make history in 1997, her unorthodox encounter with Prince Charles did, too. After performing at the Prince’s Trust 21st Anniversary Royal Gala in Manchester, the cheeky Spice star broke protocol rules, planting a kiss on embarrassed Charles’ cheek and pinching his bottom. Only Geri (1997)
After a public outpouring of grief, which saw her leave the sanctuary of Balmoral for London, the Queen views flowers left for Diana, Princess of Wales at Buckinham Palace after her death. A poignant picture. (1997)
The Queen mother looked much younger than her 99 years when she was joined by fellow royals for a birthday gathering at Clarence House in 1999. Waving at crowds, the sprightly OAP looked in excellent spirits, and perfectly pretty in a matching yellow dress and hat. (1999)
In 2001, Prince William did the same as thousands of other teenagers around the country – and headed off to university. The royal chose to study history of art at St Andrew’s in Scotland, where he first met Kate Middleton. In the first of several media agreements, Prince William agreed to pose for official pictures on his first day of term, in return for being left alone to complete his studies for the rest of the year. (2001)
We’re not sure quite what ticked the Queen as she and Prince Philip were handed flowers during a meeting with New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, in Fredericton, Canada. One of the most smiley shots we’ve ever seen, the monarch looked relaxed and happy during the 12-day Golden Jubilee tour of Canada. (2002)
Baby faced Princes William and Harry posed for their annual official picture with father Prince Charles during a skiing trip to the royal resort of Klosters, Switzerland, in March 2002. (2002)
Something had the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Anne in first of giggles during an outdoor outing in Scotland… (2003)
The second marriage for both parties, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles wanted their much-debated wedding to be a low key affair. Neither the Queen or Prince Phillip were in attendance at the 9th April 2005 event, with Princes William and Harry along with Camilla’s children, instead acting as official witnesses. The ceremony, held at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, was also postponed by one day, to allow members of the royal family to attend the funeral of Pope Jean Paul II. (2005)
Poor Prince Harry struggled to contain his giggles as the Queen – or granny, to him – inspected his passing out parade at Sandringham. Clearly delighted to have a member of family in attendance, the royal tried – and failed – to keep a straight face as the monarch wandered past. But what did she say to him? (2006)
The Queen has made no secret of how much she loves Scottish hideaway Balmoral, journeying to the royal residence for around six weeks every summer. During her downtime, the monarch loves nothing more than a picnic in the Scottish highlands, with members of the royal family, her ladies in waiting, and of course, her corgies, and is often pictured at her most happy and relaxed in the less formal, country setting. (2007)
While the Queen may not have been quite sure what to make of Lady Gaga, the monarch smiled widely as she was introduced to the zany songstress – clad in a standardly crazy red latex Elizabethan gown – at the Royal Variety Performance in 2009. We can only imagine what conversation must have taken place between this most bizarre of pairings! (2009)
For on their first ever joint tour, Prince William and Prince Harry embarked on a six-day whistlestop trip around South Africa, to coincide with the World Cup. During the fortnight, the pair got up and close and personal with a giant python and were pictured laughing and joking, as the enormous reptile was placed over their shoulders for a photo opportunity. Harry was in stitches when he was given the task of holding the snake’s head, teasing his older brother by inching it towards him. Don’t put it in my face,’ terrified Will retorted. Brothers, eh? (2010)
It was the moment thousands had been waiting for. Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement in an official statement, at 11am on Tuesday 16 November 2010. ‘The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton,’ an official statement from the Royal Household read.’The wedding will take place in the Spring or Summer of 2011, in London.’ The couple clearly couldn’t be happier and couldn’t help but beam for the cameras. The historical photos were streamed around the world. (2010)
It was the royal wedding of the year, if not the decade when Prince William married long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton in front of 1,900 guests at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. Despite months of media speculation, the designer of Kate’s dress was somehow kept a secret, with Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton only revealed as its creator as Kate made her entrance. Reminiscent of Grace Kelly’s 1956 wedding dress, the elegant gown was thoroughly British, with all fabrics, save for the French Chantilly lace, sourced by UK companies. The lace appliqué on the corseted bodice and skirt was handmade by the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique. The needles were replaced every three hours, and the workers were required to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the lace threads perfect. (2011)
While the Queen was seen parachuting out of a helicopter with James Bond at the Olympics Opening Ceremony, by and large, the historic sporting occasion was the domain of the younger royals – marking out a clear path for the future. While Kate Middleton took up a seat at an event almost every day, everyone from Princess Eugenie to Prince Harry was also in attendance, not forgetting one member, Zara Phillips, actually competing. As a show of support, the young royals – including hubby Mike Tindall – turned out en masse to support her. (2012)
The world waited with bated breath for royal baby news, when heavily pregnant Kate Middleton checked into the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s hospital in London at 5:30am on July 22 2013, with Prince William by her side. Less than 48 hours later, the couple emerged with a brand new addition to their family – adorable baby boy His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. Despite stepping out in front of hoards of snappers, the couple looked completely at ease – and more in love than ever – as they posed with their little one for a set of iconic pictures on the steps of the private hospital. (2013)
Kate Middleton and Prince William couldn’t have looked happier as they posed for their very first official pictures after the birth of their son, Prince George. Testament, perhaps, to quite how differently the royal couple have begun to do things, the intimate snaps were taken by Kate’s father Michael in the safety of their family’s back garden – not, as expected, by a celebrity photographer. It’s thought they took the decision to release their own family photos so as not to disrupt Prince George’s routine, and did so as quickly as possible, to disrupt the market for paparazzi snappers. While some criticised the hazy photographs as ‘technically poor,’ others labelled them ‘charming’. We think they’re gorgeous (2013)
The Queen and Prince Charles pose for the latest Royal Portrait photographed by Nick Knight.