20+ Official Photos of British Royalty That Show Their Long Journey Through History
The history of the British royal family spans hundreds of years and thousands of events. For that same reason, they’ve attracted a lot of attention from both people in the U.K. and the media. When an event takes place, it is regularly immortalized with a royal-endorsed family portrait. We were barely able to contain our curiosity, so we’re exploring the evolution of the many kings, consorts, and princes that make up this clan.
Bright Side is opening up this “time capsule” to show you images taken in the closest circle of the royal family that prove just how much it’s changed over the years.
1. The wedding of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra, 1863
On March 10, 1863, Queen Victoria’s eldest son married Princess Alexandra of Denmark at Windsor Castle. The image shows the newly married Prince and Princess of Wales next to the bust of the Prince Consort Albert, father of the groom. For her part, the queen wore a black dress as a sign of mourning for her husband.
2. The baptism of Prince Edward of York, 1894
In 1894, George and Mary, who were then serving as the Duke and Duchess of York, received their first son, who later would become King Edward VIII. On July 16 of that year, he was baptized and the event was immortalized in an image that brought together 4 generations: Edward of York and his father, George; his grandfather, Albert; and his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
3. The coronation of King Edward VII, 1902
In 1901, Prince Albert of Wales was proclaimed King of the United Kingdom after the departure of his mother, Queen Victoria. On August 9, 1902, he was crowned at Westminster Abbey, choosing Edward VII for his royal term. Accompanied by his wife, Queen Consort Alexandra, this became the first photograph of British royalty to show a king in his attire for the occasion.
4. King George V and his family, 1909-1911
After Edward VII’s ascension as king in 1901, George assumed the role of Prince of Wales. In 1909, his wife, Maria, appeared with their 2 sons, Edward and Albert, dressed in their naval cadet uniforms. After the loss of his father, George was proclaimed king in 1910, becoming George V. His coronation took place on June 22, 1911.
5. The baptism of the future Queen Elizabeth II, 1926
The second son of King George V, Duke Albert of York, and his wife, Duchess Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, had their first daughter on April 21, 1926. Shortly thereafter, on May 29, the future Queen Elizabeth II was christened as Elizabeth Alexandra Mary at Buckingham Palace. Some of the witnesses present at the ceremony were the Duke of Connaught and the Earl of Strathmore.
6. The coronation of King George VI, 1937
In December 1936, Edward VIII abdicated his reign to marry Wallis Simpson just 325 days after he was proclaimed king. This opened the door for his younger brother, Albert, to ascend to the throne and be crowned in 1937 as King George VI. He was accompanied by his wife, Queen Consort Elizabeth (also known as the Queen Mother), and their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.
7. The wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, 1947
On November 20, 1947, the wedding ceremony of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, later named Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, took place. The celebration was modest as the United Kingdom was recovering from the ravages of war. Proof of this could be seen in the princess’s dress, which was acquired through clothing coupons, like any other bride of the time.
8. Elizabeth’s first 2 children: Charles and Anne, 1948-1950
In their early years of marriage, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip had their first 2 children. Charles, the firstborn, was born in 1948. From his mother’s ascension until today’s date, he remains a member of the royal family that will take over the throne in the immediate future. The queen’s daughter, Anne, came into the world in 1950 and received the title of Princess Royal in 1987.
9. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953
King George VI died on February 6, 1952. That same day, the heir to the throne was proclaimed queen, so she had to leave Kenya and fly to the United Kingdom to assume her new role. On June 2, 1953, the coronation ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey. In addition to the official photographs, this extremely important event for the royal family was broadcast on television for the first time in history.
10. The new members of the royal family: Andrew and Edward, 1960-1964
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip welcomed 2 more members to their family. The image above, which was taken in September 1960 at Balmoral Castle, shows a smiling Prince Andrew at about 6 months old. The third child of the royal couple was born on February 19, 1960, and since 1986, he has taken on the responsibility of being the Duke of York.
On March 10, 1964, the fourth and last son of the monarch of the United Kingdom arrived, baptized as Prince Edward. The image, which is dated June 12, shows the queen with her youngest son, who is holding his brother’s (Prince Andrew) finger in his crib. In 1999, the youngest son of the royal family received the title of Earl of Wessex.
11. The family of Anne, Princess Royal, 1973-1977
On November 14, 1973, Westminster Abbey witnessed the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips. To record the event, images were taken with the royal family at Buckingham Palace. The couple remained together until 1992.
In their fourth year of marriage, Anne and Mark had Peter Phillips, their first child and only son, making him the oldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II. The image taken at Balmoral Castle in November 1977 brought together 3 different generations. As of 2020, Peter is number 15 in line for the succession to the throne of the British royal family.
12. The royal family reunited completely, 1979
One of the British royalty’s Christmas traditions is the delivery of commemorative cards to family, friends, and others close to them. In 1979, this image was chosen to adorn the royal card. It shows Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip reunited with their 4 children at Balmoral.
13. The wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, 1981
On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles married Diana Spencer, who obtained the royal appointment of Princess of Wales. The religious ceremony took place at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and the reception was held at Buckingham Palace. It is estimated that 1 million people followed the event on both the radio and television.
14. The arrival of Princes William and Harry, 1982-1984
On June 21, 1982, Princess Diana gave birth to her first child, Prince William. The christening ceremony took place on August 4 at Buckingham Palace in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother.
Then, on September 15, 1984, Henry (later known as Prince Harry), the second son of the Prince and Princess of Wales, came into the world. His baptism was celebrated at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor at the end of that year. The image above shows the 4 members of the family.
15. The wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, 1986
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s third child married Sarah Ferguson on July 23, 1986. By order of Her Majesty, they received the titles of Duke and Duchess of York, an appointment that Andrew holds to this day. The couple was united for 10 years and share 2 daughters: Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
16. The confirmation of Prince William, 1997
On March 9, 1997, at the age of 14, the eldest son of the Prince and Princess of Wales went to the Windsor Castle Chapel for his confirmation. Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother accompanied the future Duke of Cambridge to reaffirm his commitment to the Church of England. This is probably one of the last official images in which Prince Charles, Princess Diana, William, and Harry all appeared together.
17. The wedding of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, 2005
On April 9, 2005, Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, who received the royal title of Duchess of Cornwall. A civil ceremony was held for the engagement, and Queen Elizabeth II hosted a reception in their honor. Bruce Shand, Camilla’s father, and Tom and Laura, the duchess’s children, accompanied the members of the royal family in this photograph.
18. The royal family reunited once again, 2007
In 2007, Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, celebrated their diamond wedding. The Queen became the first monarch of the United Kingdom to reach 60 years of marriage, being one of the main curiosities about the sentimental union in more than half a century. Her 4 children joined the celebration with an image that, once again, brought together all the members of the royal family.
19. The wedding of Prince William and Duchess Kate, 2011
On April 29, 2011, Westminster Abbey witnessed yet another royal wedding. On that occasion, Prince William married Kate Middleton, and with the seal of marriage, they received the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is estimated that over a million people took to the streets of London to follow the couple’s journey and watch them outside Buckingham Palace.
20. The arrival of George and Charlotte, 2013-2015
Prince George, the first son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrived in the world on July 22, 2013. The royal family shared the above image in an announcement regarding the christening that took place in St. James’ Palace Chapel on October 23, 4 months after the birth of William and Kate’s firstborn son.
On May 2, 2015, the family grew with the arrival of another member, Princess Charlotte (number 4 in the line of succession to the throne). She was baptized on July 5 at Sandringham. William and Kate were accompanied by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and his wife, Duchess Camilla, as well as members of the Middleton family.
21. 9 decades of Queen Elizabeth II (and her lovely companions), 2016
The year 2016 was special for Elizabeth II because she turned 90 years old. To immortalize the occasion, she held a photo session at Windsor Castle. In this image, the queen appears with 4 of her puppies: Willow, Vulcan, Candy, and Holly. In the United Kingdom, Her Majesty commemorates 2 birthdays a year: one according to her date of birth (April 21) and another official one, which is regularly celebrated in June with various events for the public and a traditional military parade in her honor.
22. Celebrating life and marriage in the same year, 2018
The year 2018 was a media-heavy year for the royal family due to events involving the 2 sons of the Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Harry.
On May 19, Harry married Meghan Markle in a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Both received the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, respectively. The image was taken in the same building after a carriage procession.
Before Harry and Meghan’s wedding on April 23, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third son, Prince Louis. The christening ceremony took place on July 9, about 2 months after he was born. William, Kate, and their 3 children were part of the traditional Christmas card of the royal family in 2018 with this photograph that was captured in Anmer Hall.
23. Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor’s baptism, 2019
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex received their first child, Archie, on May 6, 2019, almost a year after they tied the knot. The baptismal ceremony took place in the private chapel of Windsor Castle on July 6 and was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate; as well as Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. As of 2020, Archie is seventh in line on the list of succession to the throne.
24. The British crown’s present and future, 2020
And after years of capturing the royal family’s history in images, it all comes down to this portrait published on the official royal networks, which commemorated the beginning of 2020. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince George represent 4 different generations of the royal family, Her Majesty’s vast legacy in the present, and the future successors to the throne of the United Kingdom.
Just like British royalty, does your family have a photo album that represents many years of history? What’s the picture that you remember most fondly?