Queen Elizabeth II was born in the age of photography, and given her incredibly long reign, she has become one of the most photographed people on Earth. Though most of the pictures we see are current, here are a few of the most incredible photos from her youth.
Saluting The Troops
One lesser-known fact about the Queen is that she took an active role in World War II, despite being a princess. Elizabeth joined the ATS and became a truck mechanic when she came of age in 1945.
Hope In Sight
A teenaged Elizabeth is pictured here with her younger sister, Margaret, during the middle of the war effort. Though she was only 13 when it began, she was always ready to stand by her mother in order to keep hope alive among the people of Britain. In the summer of 1942, Elizabeth implored her father, King George VI, to allow her to take part in the war effort. He finally relented, and she began training for her future post.
Playing At Royalty
While most little girls play at pretending to be princesses, Elizabeth knew from the start what the life of a royal was. Even so, she still seemed to enjoy the same games of other girls, especially when it came to pretending to be a grown-up. Carrying a small, child-sized purse with a large ‘E’ embroidered onto the front, the young princess looks pleased to be demonstrating just how adult she is. Her baby sister Margaret, on the other hand, looks less than pleased.
The Truest Friend
From her earliest days, Queen Elizabeth has always been an ardent animal lover. She has been pictured embracing her various dogs over the years, a tradition that still lingers to this day. The affection she holds for her pets is clear, especially given that her dog is seen below giving Elizabeth a kiss on the cheek. While dogs have long been popular in various royal courts, it might be safe to say that they are not just man’s best friend, but also the Queen’s.
In The Shadow Of Trees
Queen Elizabeth first met her future husband, Prince Philip, when she was only 13 years old. Despite her youth, the young princess had told those close to her that she had already fallen in love with the prince. The two began a written correspondence, which blossomed into a full romance as the pair aged. The two planned to wed early on in their courtship, but the King requested that no official engagement be announced until Elizabeth was 21.
Posing In Style
One of the challenges most children face is sitting still for portraits that their parents can then hang around their house. As a princess, Elizabeth was no exception, and she found even from her early years that she would have to demonstrate the patience constantly instilled in her in order to be captured on film. Though this photo was originally taken in black and white, it was retouched with color in the last few years, bringing more life to Elizabeth’s childhood.
A New Mother’s Gaze
Nearly a year after Elizabeth finally wed her love, Prince Philip, she gave birth to Prince Charles. Elizabeth was only 22 when she first became a mother, and the duties of being both a royal head of state and a mother would often conflict. Even so, in Charles’s first days, Elizabeth was captured gazing lovingly at the baby who had been difficult to deliver. Though the Queen didn’t talk about it at the time, Charles was born via Caesarian.
One Of The Girls
During Elizabeth’s army service, she was insistent on being one of the girls, undertaking the same tasks as the rest of her company, despite being royal. The biggest difference in her service is that she was the only one among them who continued to sleep at home, at least during her training. Elizabeth distinguished herself upon enlisting as being the only female in the British royal family to serve as a part of the country’s armed forces.
Developing A Life Long Love
When Elizabeth was just a small child, she began a lifelong love of the dog breed corgis. The small breed was a perfect fit for the young princess, as she could easily lift the dogs in her arms. Elizabeth longed for a puppy of her own, but she wouldn’t get her wish until she was gifted a corgi, whom she named Susan, on her 18th birthday. Elizabeth held such affection for her dogs that she went on to create a canine dynasty.
A Moment Of Quality Time
Being a royal with duties required by the government often meant for Elizabeth that she had less time than she would have liked to spend with her children. Though she would buck tradition, it seems, with regards to their raising, she held by the antiquated custom that placed the nannies firmly in charge of her children’s lives. Even so, she is pictured here with Prince Philip and her two eldest children on a casual family outing.
Hitting The Road
Princess Elizabeth was rarely seen in candid photos enjoying her private life, but in honor of her Diamond Jubilee, a video was released with footage and stills from Elizabeth’s teenage years. In this photo, the princess is seen riding in a car with her parents, sister, and of course, their pet corgi. It was refreshing to see Elizabeth acting like a regular teenager in her era, as she lounged outdoors with her family while knitting, chatting, and reading.
As any elder sister is likely to do, a youthful Elizabeth is seen sitting on the grass playing with her younger sister, Margaret. The two princesses appear to be making some sort of bunny or other animal ears, though Elizabeth and Margaret both appear somewhat startled to find the camera intruding on their private game. While the public loved any pictures of the precocious young princess, it seems then, as now, she wants the public only to see her on her own terms.
Pondering Of Letters
As a young woman, Elizabeth was captured sitting at her personal writing desk. Elizabeth had always been one to favor order and routine, even as a child. Elizabeth was so regimented that she would even write notes following her swimming lessons, the most notable of which were written on the day her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne, putting her next in line to be queen. Elizabeth often documented her days in personal journals, which has left an account of her thoughts on the events that changed her life.
Like Father Like Daughter
When Princess Elizabeth was born, her parents had no inkling of what sort of future she would have, as she was only nominally third in line for the throne. They still expected her uncle to have children, who would then supplant any claims Elizabeth had. Furthermore, until recent years, male descendants still had preference for taking the throne, so should Elizabeth have any brothers, the chance she would become queen would lessen even more. Instead, she was prepared for a life of leisure.
Posing With Joy
At 21 years old, Elizabeth was finally allowed to announce her engagement to Prince Philip, formerly of Greece and Denmark. The two posed separately and together for a series of engagement photos in 1947 that would later be shared more widely. The public engagement was met with great fanfare, though there were still many who believed that Philip wasn’t an appropriate match for Elizabeth. Many also questioned his loyalties to England, but Philip was determined to prove those doubts wrong.
Gazing Towards The Future
The joy Elizabeth’s parents felt upon her birth was palpable in the way they gazed at their tiny daughter. The parents were eager to set up as normal a life as possible for her, despite their royal titles, especially given that in her early years it was expected that Elizabeth would never ascend to the throne. The family settled into a life that was seen as utterly normal for a child, despite the royal grandeur that set her life apart from others.
Stylings Of A Schoolgirl
Before her father became king, Elizabeth’s parents took a more relaxed attitude towards her education, preferring that her lessons were short, and that a greater emphasis was made on play. The princess was always deeply interested in equestrian and spent much of her energy on maintaining a routine with her horses. The moment Elizabeth became the heir to the throne, however, her education became a much more serious matter. Luckily though, the princess enjoyed her studies.
Spoiled By Grandma
One of the major forces that shaped Elizabeth into the queen she would eventually become was her own grandmother, Queen Mary. It was Mary who constantly pushed for Elizabeth to enjoy a more rigorous education, and once her father became the king, Queen Mary made sure a plan was implemented to lead Elizabeth towards becoming a well rounded and knowledgeable ruler. Queen Mary didn’t live to see Elizabeth on the throne, but she’d likely be proud of the queen her granddaughter has become.
Queen Elizabeth’s love of horses, much like her love of dogs, hasn’t lessened over the years. During the 1970s, the Queen had a rare quiet moment with her husband, during which they were able to go visit some of the beloved royal horses that live on the palace grounds. Dressed down from her usual solid colored suits, the Queen still ops not to upset her hairstyle by covering it with a scarf in a pattern that matches that of her suit.
Making Her Army Debut
It took a lot of cajoling of her father before Elizabeth was able to join in with the war effort, but as she neared adulthood, it became harder for him to resist her pleas. Elizabeth’s first major public effort was a radio address she gave at 14 for the BBC Children’s Hour, in which she expressed empathy for all of those who were displaced by the war. Although both Elizabeth and Margaret were sent to Windsor Castle for safety, that didn’t stop them from experiencing air raids.
Holding The Curl
For every child who has been forced to sit through a photo shoot, there’s always one picture of their chubby arms grasping onto some sort of object in order to create a more interesting shot. Seeing a baby Elizabeth clutching a necklace to her curls is a good reminder for everyone that even a princess can be coaxed into silly poses. As the royal princess aged into a queen, there would be many more photoshoots, but like childhood, she left the silly poses behind.
Tiaras Of Glory
With the way the public follows every royal fashion choice Kate Middleton makes today, it’s no surprise that during the 1940s and ’50s, the masses couldn’t get enough of Elizabeth and Margaret’s fashion choices – from their gowns, to their shoes, to how they wore their hair. The princesses here are dazzling a crowd as Elizabeth flashes her winning smile from underneath a magnificent tiara. Margaret’s hairpiece may not have the height, but its inherent elegance still shines through.
Honeymoon In Malta
You can call it luck or you can call it duty, but due to Philip’s position in the Navy, the royal couple ended up taking not one, but two honeymoons after their wedding. Though their first was located in the woods of New Hampshire, the couple took a second honeymoon in Malta a year later. Of course, the trip was half work and half play for Philip, who was there on assignment when Elizabeth came to visit.
Walking The Children
Like dogs, it’s always a good idea to ensure that children get fresh air every day. Though Elizabeth often found herself occupied with her royal duties, she did what she could to spend time with her children now and again. Taking young Charles along with her for a walk in the park with one of her favorite corgis was a great way for mother and son to spend some quality time together while also getting in a little bit of exercise.
In The Eyes Of A Child
In the early 1930s, Elizabeth sat for yet another photo shoot designed to capture the best of the young princess. Remarkably mature from a young age, Elizabeth proved popular with the people of England, even before she was the heir to the throne. Showing off just what a big girl she is, she sat patiently, a small string of pearls around her neck, while she complied with the photographer’s request that she turn her cheek just so.
V Is For Victory
When the war ended, the country was even more prepared to rally behind Elizabeth, especially after having seen just how much she participated in the war effort. It was a formative experience for her to be spending so much time with her own peers, which she didn’t often get to do as a princess. On the evening of Victory Day, both she and Margaret wanted to experience the celebration with their people, so they blended into the crowds on the streets.
Practicing Her Wave
There’s little that could have charmed the English people more than seeing a toddler princess bundled in her bonnet peeking out from above her carriage in order to get a better look at the world. Elizabeth’s signature wave wouldn’t quite be developed until she was a teenager, but it’s clear the seeds were planted, even from this tender age. Then again, when she was this young, Elizabeth was hardly even aware that she was royal, let alone that she was destined to become Queen.
Enjoying The Summer Breeze
As lovely as summers are, they’re even better when you beat the heat in a breezy summer dress with a puppy in your arms. True to form, Elizabeth was captured here as a teenager clutching her dog as she gazed out into the summer sun. The flower-patterned dress was captured in another portrait of her taken around the same time, though in the second photo, she has dressed it up with two rows of delicate pearls.
Family portraits have been a palace tradition for ages, even before they were done on camera. Of course, gathering the young children and getting them to pose for a few minutes became a significantly easier task once photography was involved. In the past, however, children who posed for a portrait with their family had to spend days on end posing for the portrait while the artist rendered their likeness onto a canvas. That’s no easy task for a young child.
A Queen Of Her Own
Queen Elizabeth II may not be the most unlikely of monarchs, though it was considered a long shot upon her birth in the 1920s. In 1952, Elizabeth was crowned the Queen of the United Kingdom upon the early passing of her father, King George VI. Elizabeth was only 25 when she assumed the throne, but she has become one of the longest-reigning monarchs in history and has already surpassed the record of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who reigned for 64 years.