These Rarely Seen Photos Offer A Fascinating Glimpse Into The Real Lives Of The Royal Family

There are, of course, thousands upon thousands of photographs of the royals. They can’t go anywhere without a group of photographers following them around. But sometimes, the camera catches them in unguarded moments and unintentionally reveals something less well known about the most famous family in the world.

40. The Queen’s first Christmas Speech

The Queen’s Christmas speech is a tradition now, but she had to learn how to do it. This picture is her giving her very first one after her father died, and she took the crown. In it she said, “My father, and my grandfather before him, worked all their lives to unite our peoples ever more closely, and to maintain its ideals which were so near to their hearts. I shall strive to carry on their work.”

39. Princess Charlotte reads a book

This shot was taken at Hamburg Airport in July 2017, on the last day of the Cambridge family’s tour of Poland and Germany. It shows Princess Charlotte doing what most children her age do, reading a book at an inopportune time. It’s adorable but alas, she hasn’t quite got the hang of reading right way up yet.

38. Princess Diana and Princess Anne

This picture shows Diana with her sister-in-law, Princess Anne. Unfortunately, the two of them never particularly got along. According to the U.K. TV station Channel 4 documentary The Real Princess Anne, which aired in 2002, Anne thought very little of Diana. She hated that she herself was always unflatteringly compared to the younger woman.

37. Meghan and her dog

ADVERTISEMENT

Just like her grandmother-in-law the Queen, Meghan Markle is a dog lover. This picture shows her with her pet beagle: Guy. Guy was a rescue doggie from Ontario, and Meghan adopted him via the organization A Dog’s Dream Rescue. Now that Meghan is a duchess, Guy truly is living a dog’s dream.

36. Baby Diana

The woman who would become Princess Diana was born into immense wealth. She was the youngest daughter of an aristocrat, John Spencer, Viscount Althorp. She had a privileged childhood, wanting for nothing, but it all came apart when Diana’s parents divorced. As an adult, she and her mom would share a difficult relationship.

35. Prince George’s toy

ADVERTISEMENT

Prince George packed a lot into the first few years of his life. In 2014 he went with his parents to Australia and Taronga Zoo, where he was introduced to an animal named after him: a bilby named George. The little prince was then offered a stuffed toy version, but hilariously, right after this pic was snapped, he tossed it away. Babies eh?

34. Prince William and his air ambulance

For a while, Prince William had a job as an ambulance pilot. He’s spoken about it, and the effect it had on him, as part of his mental health advocacy work. In 2016 he told the BBC Future website that although he loved the job and looked forward to it, there were also “some very dark moments” involved in the work.

33. The Queen and Sophie, Countess of Wessex

ADVERTISEMENT

Here, the camera’s caught the Queen and Sophie, Countess of Wessex and the wife of Prince Edward, sharing a moment together. The two women would appear to be very close. Sophie addresses the Queen as “Mama,” in her speeches, and reportedly, she’s actually the Queen’s favorite of all her daughters-in-law.

32. Kate and Prince Louis

Royal fans find it very exciting whenever they spot a glimpse of Prince Louis: Kate and William’s youngest child. In 2019 they got a special treat when Kate brought all three of her kids out to watch a royal polo match. Kate was spotted carrying the little boy in her arms, but other photos from the day proved he could walk on his own too.

31. Young Elizabeth and her family

ADVERTISEMENT

Before she was queen, Elizabeth was a young mother of two. She had Prince Charles in 1948, when she was only 22 years old. Two years later, Princess Anne, her only daughter, came along. However, Prince Philip was present for neither birth. When Charles was born, Philip was off playing squash.

30. Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas

Before Meghan Markle came along, Prince Harry met Cressida Bonas through his cousin Princess Eugenie. They seemed to be a pretty well-matched couple, and for a while rumors spread that Harry might even pop the question to her. Obviously he didn’t – but the couple remained friends. Cressida was even present at Harry’s wedding to Meghan.

29. Prince William and Kate dueling

ADVERTISEMENT

Underneath all the protocol and tradition, it seems that Prince William and Kate are pretty much just massive nerds. While visiting the Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden in April 2013, they couldn’t resist but pick up some prop Harry Potter wands and pretend to duel each other. And who could blame them?

28. Kate scolding Charlotte

Royal kids are just kids at the end of the day, and they’re going to throw tantrums without the slightest concern as to whether a camera is on them. That’s how we got this very relatable photograph of Kate Middleton telling off a crying Princess Charlotte. Parents everywhere will surely understand.

27. The Diana and Charles wedding

ADVERTISEMENT

The wedding between Prince Charles and Diana was spun in the media as a fairytale. And on the actual day, that really was how it seemed. Charles kissed his bride on the hand in front of millions of people watching the ceremony on television. It made for a perfect picture… but of course the actual relationship was not so perfect.

26. Prince Edward and Princess Anne

This photo was snapped at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel in 2019. What have Edward and Anne spotted to make them appear so shocked? Who knows, but it makes for an amusing photo, if probably not one the bride is likely to hang up on her wall.

25. The Queen and her newborn son

ADVERTISEMENT

This photograph is of Princess Elizabeth – she wasn’t actually queen yet – posing at the christening of her son Prince Charles in 1948. Charles is wearing a christening gown passed down from Queen Victoria herself. Many years later, his own sons William and Harry would wear it as babies at their christenings too.

24. Diana and her sons at Thorpe Park

Princess Diana was determined that her children would have normal lives, and part of that included taking them to theme parks. Here they are riding a log flume at Thorpe Park in England. Diana’s royal parenting style went beyond just letting her boys relax and be kids – she also made sure that they lined up for all the rides.

23. The Queen Mother and her daughters

ADVERTISEMENT

Elizabeth and Margaret’s mother was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the wife of King George VI. By all accounts, she remained close to both her daughters throughout her long life. She passed away at the age of 101 – just seven weeks after her younger child Margaret died. Her grave sits alongside those of her husband and daughter.

22. Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen

There’s some very famous people in this photograph… but they weren’t as famous then. It shows Meghan Markle, Chrissy Teigen, Shay Mitchell, and Nina Agdal taking part in the New York City DirecTV Beach Bowl in 2014. Of course, none of them knew at the time that Meghan would become a royal before a decade was out.

21. Princess Eugenie photobombing

ADVERTISEMENT

This shot from Royal Ascot in 2013 probably wasn’t intended to be hilarious, but Princess Eugenie accidentally photobombing her famous grandmother the Queen makes it so anyway. Despite the “we are not amused” look on the Queen’s face in the picture, she and Princess Eugenie are actually reportedly pretty close.

20. Diana joking around with her sons

Prince William and Prince Harry always remembered Diana as a fun mom. Interviewed for the 2017 HBO documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, Harry remembered, “Our mother was a total kid through and though. She was one of the naughtiest parents.” And he also heartrendingly said, “Of course, as a son I would say she is the best mom in the world.”

19. Princess Anne on horseback

ADVERTISEMENT

Princess Anne absolutely loves horses, and she competes in horseback sports. According to Alison Oliver, her trainer who spoke on the 2002 documentary The Real Princess Anne, there’s a deeper reason for that. Oliver said, “The horses didn’t treat her any differently than it would anybody else and reacted to her as a rider and as a person, not as a princess.”

18. Charles and Diana

This photograph, taken in November 1992 during a trip to Korea, perfectly illustrates the tensions between Charles and Diana at that time. Just one month later their official separation was announced by the British prime minister, and apparently the Queen herself had stepped in and begged the couple to finally split.

17. William and his stepmother Camilla

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite everything that happened with regards to their parents’ divorce, not to mention their mother’s tragic death, William and Harry are reportedly friendly with their stepmother, Camilla Parker-Bowles. It apparently took a little time, but they accepted her as part of the family. And both were present at the wedding of her and Charles.

16. Young Elizabeth and Charles

No one looks very happy in this photograph, but that’s perhaps because Charles’ childhood apparently wasn’t all that happy. His mother was after all queen of an entire country, and her duties kept her so busy that she didn’t always have time for him. Charles was often left in the care of nannies instead.

15. Diana on a landmine field

ADVERTISEMENT

Diana did a lot of important humanitarian work throughout her life. This photograph shows her in Angola, walking through a cleared minefield in protective gear. Diana was a fierce campaigner against the use of landmines, and even today she’s remembered for the hard and dangerous work that she put in.

14. Meghan and baby Archie

In 2020 Meghan released a delightful video, one of herself reading little baby Archie a bedtime story. It was created not only to mark Archie’s first birthday, but also to raise money for the charity Save The Children. And the royals didn’t hire a videographer: Prince Harry filmed the whole thing himself.

13. Diana on Sports Day

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s traditional for British schools to have a Sports Day every year, and the parents are encouraged to join in. Even though Diana was a member of the royal family, she threw decorum to the wind and joined in the Mother’s Race, with no shoes on to boot. She didn’t win, but she’s a winner in our hearts.

12. Princess Anne and her husband

This photograph from 1980 shows Princess Anne and her first husband, Mark Phillips, sharing a happy moment together. Unfortunately, though, their relationship didn’t end well. Phillips cheated on Anne and actually fathered a daughter while still married to her, and the pair called it quits for good in April 1992.

11. The Queen watching her daughter

ADVERTISEMENT

In this photograph taken in July 1976, the Queen watches her daughter Princess Anne compete in a cross-country endurance race, surrounded by multiple security guards naturally. No wonder she looks so nervous, because the race includes hedges, fences, and water-jumps on horseback. And it was pouring with rain, to boot.

10. Prince Harry with a water gun

Prince Harry was a pretty naughty kid. In the 2014 documentary Harry at 30, bodyguard Ken Wharfe remembered, “The one thing about Thorpe Park I remember, and I could kill him for it, was the manager gave William and Harry these two water pistols. They said, ‘Let’s fill them with water and get the policemen,’ and I said, ‘No, you are not doing that.’” But they did it anyway.

9. Young Elizabeth and Philip

ADVERTISEMENT

Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth went through a lot in their early years. Elizabeth was told she couldn’t announce her engagement to him until she was 21, and Philip had to become a British citizen and renounce any right to the throne of Greece before the wedding. But they’re still together to this day.

8. Harry, William, and their nanny

Despite Diana’s insistence that her sons lead normal lives, nannies were still brought into the picture every now and again. One of these women was the attractive Tiggy Legge-Bourke, pictured here. Her presence unfortunately made things between Diana and Charles even worse. Diana was absolutely convinced that Charles was sleeping with her.

7. Prince Harry on a Star Wars set

ADVERTISEMENT

In June 2016 princes William and Harry visited the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. They got to meet all the major stars, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Mark Hamill. Even more exciting was that they both got to film cameos for the film, hidden under Stormtrooper armor – but they got cut from the final movie.

6. The royals in Diana’s memorial garden

One of the gardens at Kensington Palace is called the Sunken Garden, and in August 2017 it was transformed into the “White Garden,” a memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales. Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry all went out in the rain to look around. A few months later, Harry would use the same garden for his engagement photoshoot with Meghan Markle.

5. The Queen’s funny face

ADVERTISEMENT

There are many photographs of the Queen pulling accidental silly faces. If you’ve got cameras following you around all the time it’s pretty much inevitable. But this one, taken at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2019 when the Queen’s horses were competing, might just win the prize for best one ever.

4. Trooping the Color

Trooping the Color is always a fun event for royal fans, since they get to see all of them in their finest outfits plus usually the kids as well. Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and their cousin Savannah Phillips all turned up for the 2018 ceremony, and it was absolutely freakin’ adorable.

3. Diana shaking hands with an AIDS patient

ADVERTISEMENT

Diana did a lot to change the perception of AIDS. In the late ’80s, at a time when people thought that the disease could be transmitted by touch, she threw herself into working with AIDS patients. Not only that, but she publicly shook the hand of a man suffering from the disease, proving to the world that skin-to-skin contact wouldn’t spread the illness.

2. After the bombing of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace was for obvious reasons a target during World War II. In 1940 several Luftwaffe bombs hit the estate while King George VI and his wife were inside, and it caused a lot of damage. The King and Queen later posed for the media in the rubble. Sadly though, one of their staff was killed in the destruction.

1. The princes at Diana’s memorial

ADVERTISEMENT

A few days after Diana’s tragic death, Prince Charles took his two sons out to view the huge pile of flowers created for their mother. At the time, the boys were only 15 and 12 years old. It was a touching scene of course, but the photograph of them at the gates also radiates sadness.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT