The Birth of a Queen
Queen Elizabeth the Second was not always set on the path which she has taken. In fact, while she was born into royal blood, she was never expecting to be Queen at all! She was born in London, the oldest child of the Duke and Duchess of York, George and Elizabeth. George’s brother Edward the Eighth gave up his throne by abdicating in 1936, when her own father was suddenly given his place. What a surprise it must have been!
A Royal Scandal
But Edward had fallen in love in what was the most scandalous of ways for the time- with a divorcee. Her name was Wallis Simpson, and she had been divorced not just once, but twice. As the King, he was also the head of the church, which still opposed divorced people remarrying while their spouses were still alive. If Edward wanted to marry her, he would have to make probably the hardest choice any royal could make. His heart or his throne.
An Easy Choice
He didn’t have to think for long. He abdicated in December 1936, and married Wallis Simpson shortly after. Here is one of their rare and candid wedding photos, showing their happy day. But not everyone was happy for them, and many were also sceptical about their love. But they proved the naysayers wrong. While many said she had only chosen him for his status, they stayed married until his death, 35 years later.
Unsure in Love
But his actions would put into place the sequence of events which would lead to our very present. Up until now, Elizabeth’s childhood had been quite normal. Her mother was eager for her to have as normal a life as possible, and had even worried about marrying Prince Albert, the second son of King George, because she was “afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I feel I really ought to.” Prince Albert said he could marry no other except for her.
Times Were Changing
And it’s a good job he did! It took him two more proposals to secure Elizabeth’s hand in marriage in 1923, but this was to be the union that brought about our very own Queen Elizabeth, as well as her sister, Margaret. At the time, just the fact that Albert was allowed to marry someone who was not a princess, (despite her noble birth) was a huge step forward. Before then, princes and princesses were supposed to marry only other prince and princesses from other kingdoms.
The Queen mother was born Elizabeth Bowes- Lyon, and was one of ten children. This photo of her, taken when she was just nine years old, shows her practising her royal curtsy, despite never knowing she would be marrying a prince! It shows that despite her not being a princess by birth, she was in a very privileged position. This is an adorable photograph, and one of very few we have of her earlier years.
A Shot at the Throne
When George V died, Albert was given his chance at the throne, and by this point, he and his bride had two children, two girls- Elizabeth and Margaret. It was known that George would actually have been pretty happy with this turn out, as he was quoted as saying “”I pray God that my eldest son will never marry and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne.” He clearly felt that Elizabeth and Albert would make a better King and Queen.
A Difficult Time
In World War Two, the couple took to that role very seriously, becoming a source of moral support for the whole of England during a very difficult time. While it might have been safer for them to leave the country, they refused to be evacuated, instead staying with the people. Famously, Elizabeth said, “The children won’t leave unless I do, I won’t leave unless the King does, and the King will not leave at all.”
Our Jolly Queen Mum
Even after Albert died, and Elizabeth became known as Elizabeth the Queen Mother, she did not retire from public life, and became a very active role in the royal family. She was known for her charm and her personality, and was a breath of fresh air in quite a staid image of the monarchy. She once said about money, “Golly, I could do with £100,000, couldn’t you? I had such an awful afternoon with my bank manager scolding me about my overdraft.’ She died at 101 years old.
A Normal Life
Meanwhile, her daughter Elizabeth also had a huge life change when Edward abdicated from the throne. She was now heir to the throne, and her life would never be the same again. Up until now, her and her sister Margaret had not been in the public eye in a very large way, educated at home in subjects such as Literature, Language, History and Music. Her governess was called Marion Crawford, but the girls called her Crawfie.
An Unwanted Publication
While this is an affectionate nickname, indicative of an affectionate relationship, after the governess and teacher left the royal household, she actually published a book about the girls. The name of the biography was The Little Princesses, and the royal family were shocked and upset that she had chosen to do that. The book came out in 1950, and did not have any ill intent, describing the future queen as ordered, and with a strong attitude of responsibility.
A Close Bond
The Queen mother had taught Elizabeth great character, as well as other skills. She taught Elizabeth to read herself, before the age of five. The pair were very close, which you could see in all photos of the two together. Elizabeth also knows how to speak conversationally in other languages, because she did not want to travel the world speaking to dignitaries and other royal families using an interpreter. As such, she speaks French fluently.
God will Take Care of U
At 14 years old, Elizabeth wanted to help out with the war effort, and was clearly much more capable than her young age would suggest. As her parents went to comfort the people, she herself took to the radio, and started a set of broadcasts to reassure children who has been evacuated and were far from their homes. She believed that “all will be well, for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.”
The Royal Ladies
The Queen mother was also very close to Margaret, she had a strong relationship with both her daughters, as they did with each other, as shown in happy photos such as this one taken of the sisters. She hated leaving her daughters, even saying she was “very miserable to be leaving them” on one of her royal visits to open Parliament House in Canberra when Margaret was very young. There are four years between the two sisters.
Margaret and Elizabeth were close from a young age, and Margaret was given the title the Countess of Snowdon. She was not without her share of media scrutiny however. This was never more apparent than when she fell in love with Peter Townsend, who was still married at the time. Although he divorced his wife in 1952 and proposed to Margaret, the church would not allow it. She eventually married Antony Armstrong-Jones, but the marriage did not last.
What the Heart Wants
Our own Queen Elizabeth had no such heartache. At the age of just 13, she was already sure about who she wanted to be her partner through life, none other than Prince Philip himself. The pair are on the outside, very different from one another. While Elizabeth is serious and reserved, Philip was loud and at times even tactless, saying whatever is on his mind. Perhaps this is a case of opposites attract, as their love has lasted a lifetime.
There were a few bumps along the way, and one of these was about what they would call themselves once they were married! Prince Philips family name was Mountbatten, but both Elizabeth the Queen mother, as well as the prime minster at the time, Winston Churchill, did not think that this was the name that they should be taken. Under immense pressure, the family took the name of Windsor, something which upset Philip greatly.
It took many years for this particular problem to be resolved, in fact, it took until both the resignation of Winston Churchill, and the death of Queen Mary. In 1960, Philip was allowed to pass on his name to be added to his children’s. But there were some rules. Only the male children who were not going to inherit the throne could have the name Mountbatten-Windsor, while the rest remained Windsor.
Recovering from War
This was just one sign that the royal family didn’t exactly welcome Philip with open arms. Even her father the King was not delighted by the match. He preferred she married someone with more money, and without the allegiances to the Danish and Greek royal family. As the country was still recovering from war, their wedding was planned to be less lavish than a usual royal affair, and Elizabeth even collected coupons to pay for her own dress!
But looking at this photo of the gorgeous pair on their wedding day, we can see that for them, any struggle was worth it to get to their own special day. The couple shine with love for one another in this photo, and pretty much in every photo ever taken since! They stand by one another, are rarely seen without one another, and have built an incredible family. We must say… # relationshipgoals.
The two lovebirds got married in 1948, and soon after, they had their first son, Prince Charles. Even though Phillip was not a prince, the King allowed for their children to be called the royal titles of Prince or Princess, as she was heir to the throne and would one day soon become Queen. Charles is shown here with his delighted mother, who was just 22 years old when she had him. He was baptized in the palace itself, in the Music room, by the Archbishop!
Soon after, the next child, Princess Anne, was born. In this photo of Charles with his mother and grandmother, Princess Elizabeth is holding her as a baby. Charles originally had a governess who taught him at home, until the age of eight. At this point, in an unorthodox move, the royal family decided that he would be educated at school instead of at home. Things were changing for the royal family as they moved with the times.
But things were changing for everyone. By the time Anne was just a year old, the health of the King was not strong. Elizabeth began to take over for him at public events, travelling around the globe to meet people and form new relationships. Tragically, she was on foreign business on the way to Kenya in 1952 when she found out that her father had died. They immediately moved to Buckingham Palace to begin the coronation process.
Elizabeth the Second
It took a year before Elizabeth the Second formally took the throne, to give the family time with their grief. On June the 2nd, 1953 she celebrated her coronation, and officially became the monarch of many countries. These include, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Ceylon, and both New Zealand and South Africa. At 25, that crown and responsibility has got to be feeling pretty heavy!
The Lovely Queen
Imagine if she knew at this early age that she would become the longest reigning monarch, even longer than Queen Victoria! She recently celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee, the first monarch in history to make such an achievement. She has seen the world change in huge ways, and is known for being very politically aware, often meeting with prime ministers to discuss policy, as she has lived through so many of them over the years.
A Wonderful Mother
It’s hard to remember that she is also a doting mother to her four children! Her and Anne have always been very close, perhaps in part because Anne is her only daughter. Anne is known for many things, amongst them is her love of horseback riding! She is a talented rider, and even has won some medals in the past. She rode on the British Equestrian Team. Shockingly, she was the victim of an attempt at kidnapping in 1974, after which she has remained out the public eye.
Empowering Women Around the Globe
But that doesn’t mean that Anne does not do her part to make the world a better place. She often travels the globe to take part in women’s initiatives such as helping to empower women through education. This means a great deal to her, and she was recently in Ghana, to speak to the African community about giving female empowerment through education and schooling. We imagine her mother is extremely proud.
A Strong Woman
This Photo of Anne, taken on her travels shows how unconscious she is of being on the other side of the camera. She keeps herself out of the media circus which can sometimes be her families life, and without being any serious heir to the throne, she has this luxury. She still chooses to do so much charity work and good around the globe though, which we think is a testament to how she was raised and her understanding of her own privilege. Doesn’t she look like her mother, the Queen here?
As well as Charles and Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip have two more sons, Edward and Andrew. Prince Edward is the Earl of Wessex, and is married to Sophie Rhys Jones, and Prince Andrew is the Duke of York, and made the headlines for marrying and divorcing Sarah Ferguson, better known as Fergie. The older siblings also have titles of course. Anne is the Princess Royal, while Charles is known as Prince of Wales.
A Quiet Moment
This picture of the Queen reading to Andrew and Edward captures a truly special moment between a mother and her sons. How often do we read our kids bedtime stories, and tuck them into their pyjamas at night. The Queen is deep down no different, craving that close time with her sons and enjoying spending some unique bonding time with them at the end of the day. It’s a heart warming photo, and one to cherish.
The family used to spend a lot of time at their property known as Balmoral. It is the Queen’s favourite, and was originally bought by Queen Victoria herself! It is one of the few properties which is privately owned by the royal family. It’s a huge estate at around 50,000 acres of land. This photo shows how happy the royal family are there, and doesn’t Andrew look like our young prince William here? A stunning family resemblance.
Charles Prince of Wales
Unlike Queen Elizabeth herself, Charles grew up from the age of 3 as heir to the throne, and feeling the weight of that responsibility on his shoulders from childhood. However, some say he might never become the King, as he is almost 70 himself! Speculation has mounted over the years about whether he will abdicate and hand over the throne to his eldest son, Prince William. We hope the current Queen lives many more happy years. After all, her mother lived until 101!
The Queen has had some exciting royal appointments in her time, including opening up the Victoria line, one of the most widely used London Underground lines, in 1969. Here she is seen taking a ride on the train itself, an incredible thing, as previously to this, no royal family member had ever taken public transportation of any kind! Millions of people watched the event. In 2018, the Elizabeth Line will open, honouring our Queen herself.
In 1979, she made another first, travelling to the Middle East, despite it being a difficult part of the world politically, and perhaps less safe than staying in the UK. She met with the Emir of Bahrain, and visited six Gulf countries. Here she is seen chatting to the Emir, and reports were that she made friends with all of the leaders of the countries she went to. She and Prince Philip both commented later on how lovely the people in the UAE had been during their visit.
Spice up your Life
Some of her visits were a bit less royal in nature! In 1997, the Queen of England met the Spice Girls! At the time, the pop stars were the hottest band of the 90’s, and had brought girl power to the masses, arguably something they have in common with the Queen herself! They are seen here meeting her backstage at the Royal Variety Performance, and they all look as delighted as one another. Perhaps the Queen is a secret fan!
A Trip to India
The Queen and Prince Philip were also the first monarchs to visit India since the state gained its own independence. The toured the country, visiting Kolkata and Mumbai, and even went to see the Taj Mahal. This photo shows them enjoying a great honor, being the guests at the India Republic Day Parade. Their visit started a trend, as since then lots of royals have followed suit, including Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Visiting the Vatican
Not content to stop breaking records, the Queen also made the headlines as the first British monarch to visit the Pope himself at home in the Vatican. The pair had a “warm and relaxed” meeting where they chatted over religion and politics, and the Pope returned her visit just two years later, coming to England to see her at her palace. This photo shows a slightly more formal part of their conversations, but the Pope looks at home with his advisors around him.
Visiting the World Wonders
Another exciting trip for the Queen and Prince Philip was their trip to see the Great Wall of China, in 1986. Here the couple are, with the backdrop of the beautiful wonder of the world, becoming yet again record breakers, as the first members of the British Royal Family to tour China. It wasn’t all sightseeing though, the couple met with various leaders of the country, and attended a state banquet in Beijing while they were there.
Meeting a President
While the UK have had just the one Queen since the 50’s, the United States have gone through 11 Presidents! One of the most famous has to be Ronald Reagan, who the Queen met in 1982. He came to meet both her and the female prime minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher. Unfortunately his visit was just two days long, but they did manage to get in a spot of horseback riding, a pastime the Queen loves nearly as much as her daughter!
The Royal Yacht
Another activity the Queen likes to do, is sail. This photo of her shows her carefree and joyous on the Royal Yacht, which was launched in 1953 and then used by the family for nearly 45 years. It was used often when it was less regular for people to travel by plane, but now it isn’t used for anything more than the odd dinner party. You can visit the yacht as a tourist attraction, in Leith, Edinburgh, and see for yourself what it’s like onboard!
A Trip to South Africa
But some boat trips are easier than others. In 1947, Elizabeth was not yet married to Philip, and she took a state visit to South Africa along with her parents, King George and the Queen Consort, the future Elizabeth the Queen mother. They went on the HMS Vanguard, and the trip took an astonishing three weeks. While there, they also visited Swaziland. This trip gave Elizabeth a love and a zeal for serving the British people.
Still Going Strong
And this hasn’t slowed down, even at the age of 91! In fact, she reportedly carries out more engagements than William, Kate and Harry combined. Philip Duke of Edinburgh is going to be taking a less public role, stepping out the public eye to focus on his health and have some quiet time. We think that’s pretty well earned given the amount of public service he has given. Perhaps it’s time we looked to the next generation…
The Story of Charles and Diana
And there’s no bigger media spectacle than the life of the first in line to the throne, our very own Charles, Prince of Wales. The story of Charles and Diana was a long and complicated one, and we might never really know what happened between the heir to the throne and his late ex wife. Diana was known to be a beautiful and kind woman, who died too soon. It’s a tragedy that William and Harry still struggle to talk about.
A Speedy Courtship
Charles and Diana met in 1977, but they didn’t have any romantic involvement until the 80’s. He ran into her at a friend’s barbecue, and began to think about her as a possibility for marriage. At this point, you can see that Diana steps into the spotlight and begins to go with Charles on visits to see the rest of his family. The courtship was not long, and the pair were engaged in February 1981, and married just a few months later.
The New Prince
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge was born in 1982, and he is the oldest son of Prince Charles Duke of Wales and Diana Spencer. He is the second in line to the throne of England. He was quite a treat for the British people, who had not had a baby born by a prince and a princess for almost 80 years, since Prince John, the son of King George the fifth and Queen Mary in 1905. The media attention has never really died down for the prince.
Nothing caught the public eye more than the princesses’ pregnancy, especially when only 3 months into her term, she ended up in hospital after falling down a staircase. As her mental health was already under question, as well as the happiness of her marriage to Charles, there are now reports that she did this on purpose, perhaps in a bid for suicide, or perhaps simply to get the attention of her husband. While she sustained some bruising, William was fine, and when he was born, she affectionately called him Wombat, showing her unique motherly love for her son.
Looking at photos of the two of them together, you can see the special bond which William had with his mother, even from an early age. Her death, when he was just 15 years old, must have been the most heart breaking experience a teenage boy could go through. He has even said “grief is the most painful experience” when he spoke to the media about it, in recent times. But in this photo, he was just a baby, no idea what was to come.
A New Arrival
But Prince William wasn’t going to be an only child for long. Just two years later, he was joined by his younger brother Harry. For many siblings, having a new baby in the household can be difficult. Jealousy and rivalry can be the name of the game, and it can stop a close bond forming between brothers and sisters. I’m sure that Charles and Diana were nervous that this was going to be the case for her boys, but she could not have been more wrong.
A Unique Bond
As the years went by, William and Harry grew to have a unique brotherly bond which was as close as could be. While their personalities are certainly different, with Harry being a little more on the wild side, and William being more quiet and reserved in nature, you can see just by looking at them that they have brotherly love in spades for one another. One of the fun activities they share is a love of motorcycles, often taking time out to do this hobby as a pair.
The Boy With the Scar
Did you know that Prince William has a scar on his forehead, due to an operation he had to have when he was just nine years old? He calls it his Harry Potter scar, after the lightning shaped scar in the children’s books, even though when he got the scar, Harry Potter was not yet even published! He got hit by a student swinging a golf club, accidentally of course. He was rushed to Royal Berkshire hospital, and underwent surgery.
A Normal Life
Diana enjoyed giving her boys what she called ‘normal’ experiences. This meant that despite their royal status, she took them to restaurants like McDonalds, or to theme parks like Disney World. She also introduced them to many people who were far less fortunate than they were. This included going to shelters for homeless people, and clinics where patients suffered from AIDS. She made sure that they realised that they should be giving back.
The Death of a Mother
William and Harry must have been a unique support to one another, when Diana’s death came so suddenly, and so tragically. This photo of the two of them standing by her graveside as young boys is one of the most heart-breaking photos we have seen of the royal family, and one which stands in everyone’s minds eye as a true act of courage and young grief that no one should have to go through, especially before they even leave school.
They do have their memories of their mother though. One of the most amusing anecdotes was how William supposedly told Diana at just age seven that when he grew up, he was going to enter law enforcement, and become a policeman so that he could protect her from harm. Quick as a whip, five year old Harry responded that he couldn’t- he already had a job, he was going to be the King! How sad now to realise that Diana really did need the world’s protection.
But now, 20 long years later, Prince William has found another person to help share his grief with. This cute little girl is none other than Princess Katherine, who at this time is just Kate Middleton, child of a middle class family, and whose father worked for British Airways. Her plans were to work for the family business, Party Pieces. Little did she know what was awaiting her!
Keeping it Quiet
At a fashion show during their time at university, William and Kate were introduced, but Kate was dating another student, Robert Finch. Despite William’s interest in the stunning brunette, nothing happened between them until they got to know one another a little better. Kate split up with Robert, and the two actually became flatmates in their sophomore year. Unsurprisingly, William didn’t trust the media after what happened to his mother, so the relationship was kept on the down low.
THE Royal Wedding
Using the engagement ring which had belonged to his mother Diana, William popped the question to Kate Middleton in November 2010, while the pair were in Kenya on holiday. Prince William was with the Royal Air Force at the time, stationed in North Wales, which is where the couple lived for a time. They got married in Westminster Abbey with millions of eyes watching from around the globe. Kate Middleton became Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
A Royal Arrival
It wasn’t long before the Duke and Duchess announced that they were expecting their first baby. Despite suffering from very serious morning sickness known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, His Royal Highness baby George Alexander Louis was born in 2013, on July 22nd. The media exploded once again with excitement for the young prince, and he became one of the most famous babies on the planet, before he could even give his first smile.
Not even two years later, the family welcomed a second child, Charlotte Elizabeth… Diana. What a beautiful tribute to the mother who William loved and misses so very much, to give her name to his daughter. She was born on May 2nd 2015. The royal family have recently announced that William and Kate are expecting their third baby, and that Kate is again suffering from her extreme sickness. We wish her the best for a healthy and safe pregnancy.
A Little Style Icon
Meanwhile, Prince George is all set to begin school! Like his father before him, he will not be schooled at home, but go out to school, and no doubt the media attention will be pretty heavy as he does. He has already been ranked on the 50 Best Dressed Men in Britain by style icons GQ! It’s well known that if George is photographed wearing an outfit or playing with a toy, that item will sell out in no time.
While we can’t know how much restrictions there are on the young prince’s life, we do see photos of him looking as carefree and young as any other child. He plays outside, has animals and friends to keep him company, and his parents clearly adore him. William even insisted on driving them home from the hospital after he was born, despite usual royal protocol suggesting they had a driver. He wants to do everything he is allowed to do to be your regular father.
“An Amazing Mother”
While they wait for number three, William and Kate certainly have their hands full! William has been more open about the trials of parenting than any other royal before him. While the family were on a trip to Vietnam, he told the world, “Well, as the other parents in the room will testify, there’s wonderful highs and there’s wonderful lows. It’s been quite a change for me, personally. I’m very lucky in the support I have from Katherine. She is an amazing mother and a fantastic wife.”
“I’ve Struggled at Times”
In 2017, the public wants to hear the royal family be honest about the lives they lead, the good and the bad. While in the past, the royal family might have been more aloof, what makes William and Kate so likeable is the honesty they show. William was interviewed as saying, “I’ve struggled at times, the alteration from being a single, independent man to going into marriage and then having children is life-changing. I adore my children very much and I’ve learned a lot about myself”.
Getting Away from it All
We love how much the new royal family share of their lives, including photos and interviews of what they are up to. This gorgeous photo was taken on a few days break to a private location in the French Alps. This was a destination which has attracted other celebrities, including Victoria and David Beckham. Kate and Will hired one private photographer to take photos, in the hopes of escaping from the rest of the media.
A Proud Matriarch
And it goes without saying that the Queen loves having the little ones in her life too, expanding her role into that of Great Grandmother! This photo of the four generations is totally adorable, and everyone looks happier than can be described. William has spoken about Queen Elizabeth as an incredible role model and figurehead, something effortlessly stable which has allowed him to explore and understand his own path in life.
And now it’s William and Kate who have their chance to travel the world and meet celebrities. We love this photo of the Duke and Duchess meeting Jennifer Lopez, we can’t decide who looks more excited! JLo was apparently so overwhelmed by her royal meeting that she touched William on the arm, but it doesn’t look as though anyone minds too much. They met in 2011, at the Belasco theatre in LA.
Another celebrity sighting which William and Kate won’t soon forget is the dinner they hosted for the former president and first lady, Barack and Michelle Obama. They arrived at Kensington Palace by helicopter, and stayed in the US ambassadors home, which is in Regent’s Park. As you can see here, the two women had plenty to say to one another. Maybe they’re swapping tips about being the world’s most powerful women?
One thing which is clear is that the idea of meeting royalty has certainly evolved in the past few decades. Rather than simple stand in a line to shake hands, we now see celebrities chatting and laughing with the royals in a very natural way. This photo of William meeting Nicole Kidman is a great example of that, maybe they are laughing about her latest film, or discussing the state of the Brexit, who knows?!
Who’s More Excited?
And it looks like the older generation are following suit, as this adorable photo of Tom Cruise ad Prince Philip shows. They both look at ease, excited and laughing as they chat backstage at an event. How lovely to see that the strict and staid rules around royal conduct have lessened up a bit over time, allowing people to feel comfortable speaking their minds or even having a joke with this famous family. We would love to have been a fly on the wall here!
The Royal Family
Sometimes, in these candid moments caught as the media scrutinizes their every move, you see a glimpse of your regular happy family, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. They have come a long way in the past century, and there is a long way yet to go, but we love watching, especially through such beautiful and emotive photos! Long live the Queen!