Follow Vogue Arabia

30 Rare Photos from Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood, Wedding, and More

Photo: Getty

There is perhaps no way to measure the number of photos taken of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-serving British monarchy in history. But here’s an idea: Getty Images and Alamy—two of the largest online visual databases in the world—each has well over 100,000.

After all, the Queen was publicly known from the moment she was born: her father, the Duke of York, stood second in line to the British throne, making her newsworthy even in the earliest days of her life. Yet she likely never imagined that one day her image would take over the world—on newspapers, on television, even on money as the Queen of England. She was, after all, never supposed to be monarch at all.

But then the abdication of Edward VIII on December 11, 1936, changed everything. Suddenly, a reserved 10-year-old girl was the heir presumptive and shoved into the brightest of spotlights, under which she remained for the next 86 years. Amid it all, Britain changed dramatically, going from a global empire to the Commonwealth of Nations and just one of the world’s many players. There was the Suez Canal Crisis, the Falklands War, the Iraq War, and many other conflicts. There was Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and 10 other prime ministers. And there was the Swinging Sixties, the free love 1970s, the punk 1980s, and the dawn of the millennium. “The Queen has been a constant in our lives,” former prime minister Sir John Major told biographer Robert Hardman for his book, Queen of Our Times.

Indeed, President Obama once remarked that she was the type of leader whose life had spanned “such momentous epochs, that they find no need to posture or traffic in what’s popular in the moment; people who speak with depth and knowledge, not in sound bites. They find no interest in polls or fads.”

On the occasion of the first anniversary of her passing, take a look back at her extraordinary life and reign in photos—stretching from a few months before she became the heir presumptive to her last public appearance meeting new prime minister Liz Truss. It would be her 15th, and final, British premier.

George, Duke of York, and Princess Elizabeth sitting on a bench with their corgi dogs in the grounds of their London home, 145 Piccadilly, in July 1936. Photo: Getty

Princess Elizabeth in the grounds of her London home, 145 Piccadilly, with a pet dog. Photo: Getty

The then-Princess Elizabeth with her pony, at age 10. Photo: Getty

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret at the windows of the Royal Welsh House with two Corgi dogs, June 1936. Photo: Getty

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in a carriage in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park in July 1940. Photo: Getty

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret making a broadcast to the children of the British Empire during World War II. Photo: Getty

Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth working on paintings in the school room of Buckingham Palace, London. Photo: Getty

Princess Elizabeth of England represents her father, the King at the Trooping of the Colour ceremony. Photo: Getty

Princess Elizabeth with fiancée Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece and Denmark, soon after announcing their engagement. Photo: Getty

Elizabeth and Phillip on their wedding day, November 20, 1947. Photo: Getty

Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands in November 1947. Photo: Getty

At Balmoral Castle with one of her Corgis in September 1952. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in an undated photograph. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey, London on June 2 1953. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation in 1953. Photo: Getty

A portrait of young Elizabeth II wearing the crown of the kings and queens of England for her coronation in June of 1953. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Photo: Getty

The royal family at Buckingham Palace, London, 1972. Left to right: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Edward and Prince Charles. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth ll arrives at Aberdeen Airport with her corgis to start her holidays in Balmoral, Scotland in 1974. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II during a picture-taking session in the salon at Sandringham House. These photos were taken in connection with the royal Family’s planned tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1974. Photo: Getty

The Princess of Wales and the Queen attend the Opening of Parliament in London, November 1982. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth waits on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral with her grandsons Prince Harry and Prince William and Princess Margaret after attending a national service of thanksgiving in celebration of The Queen Mother’s 100th birthday in London 11 July 2000. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth on a walkabout along Windsor High Street as part of her 80th Birthday celebrations, 21 April 2006. Photo: Getty

Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth ll, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Princess Anne stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to view a flypast to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on July 10, 2018 in London. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo after she recorded her annual Christmas Day message, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace in December 2018. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth during a 2015 visit to Berlin, Germany. Photo: Getty

A billboard of Queen Elizabeth’s speech about the 2020 coronavirus pandemic is broadcast in Piccadilly Circus. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with incoming Defense Service Secretaries Major General Eldon Millar (R) during an audience at Windsor Castle on February 16, 2022. It was her last in-person public appearance. Photo: Getty

Queen Elizabeth waits in the Drawing Room before receiving newly elected leader of the Conservative party Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle on September 6. Photo: Getty

Originally published in

View All
Vogue Collection