Queen Elizabeth has been an institution unto herself for our entire lives. In fact, she has been around so long that many of us don’t remember her surprising origin story!
First of all, young Elizabeth never imagined that she would ever serve as queen. When she was born way back in 1926, her father George was the second son of the monarch. The royal line of succession dictated that the first son, Edward, would serve as king and then his descendants would later inherit the throne.
However, after Edward became king, he made the utterly unprecedented choice to abdicate the throne in 1936, and his brother became King George VI. This made 16-year-old Elizabeth the daughter of the king, and set her destiny to serve as England’s future queen.
As you can tell, there is plenty about Queen Elizabeth that the average person doesn’t know. If you’d like to know more about the Queen, nothing beats taking a peek at pictures from her past. That is why we rounded up this collection of rare photos, many of which Elizabeth never expected the world to see!
Elizabeth as a newborn
In this 1926 photo, we see the future Queen Elizabeth II as a young baby, held by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother!
The queen and her parents
In this next 1926 photo, we see baby Elizabeth’s hand being held by her royal father, King George VI.
Posing with grandma
Judging from this photo of the future queen and her grandma Queen Mary, her regal bearing really is genetic!
Oh, she fancy, now!
In this 1927 photo, we see one-year-old Elizabeth sitting pretty and showing off some fancy jewelry!
You’ve probably only seen the Queen as an old woman since you were first born. But in this 1928 photo, we see a baby that England soon fell in love with!
Attending royal ceremonies was always an important part of Elizabeth’s life. In this 1931 photo, we see her as a five-year-old attending the wedding of Lady May Cambridge and Captain Henry Abel Smith.
Strutting her stuff
The Queen mastered strutting her stuff at a young age. Just check out her stride in this great 1932 photo!
A royal relationship
Royal relationships with siblings can get weird (just look at William and Harry’s feud). But in this 1932 photo, we see the future queen posing sweetly with her little sister, Princess Margaret.
The Queen and her castle
When she was young, Elizabeth loved to hang out at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. In this 1932 photo, we see her heading back to the castle after church.
Elizabeth loved to play
Photos of royals often look very serious, even when the royalty in question is very young. But in this 1933 photo, we see Elizabeth playing with a beloved doll.
Queen of smiles
You never know what will make a kid smile. In this 1934 photo, we see Elizabeth giggling during the dress rehearsal of a military presentation known as the Aldershot Tattoo.
Even royal kids hate photos
Every family gathering has that annoying moment where parents are trying to get children to pose for photos. And in this 1935 photo, we can see that a young Elizabeth is not excited about posing for photos.
Is that a queen or a knight?
Elizabeth has loved riding horses her whole life and continues to do so at age 95! This photo, taken sometime in the 1930s, shows the future queen enjoying her favorite hobby.
Must love dogs
Elizabeth may prefer horses, but she certainly loves dogs, too. Here, we can see her and her sister bonding with a dog in 1936.
When you’re royal, you probably get the pony you wanted from Christmas. At least, that’s what this 1936 photo of Elizabeth and her pony makes us think!
The future queen and her mother
Elizabeth has always enjoyed a great relationship with her mother. And this 1940 photo shows just how close they were!
Elizabeth takes to the airwaves
Elizabeth took on more responsibilities as she grew older. And in this 1940 photo, we see her and her sister preparing to address England’s children over the radio.
There was no trouble getting Elizabeth to pose for this 1940 photo! Maybe letting the dogs in the photo helped.
Elizabeth learned to play the piano when she was younger. Here, we see a 14-year-old Elizabeth practicing the keys in this 1940 photo!
The queen at war!
Elizabeth did not sit World War II out. She served as a mechanic, and this photo shows her hard at work during the war.
The Queen in color
In this beautiful 1946 photo, we see Elizabeth as a 20-year-old writing a letter from within Buckingham Palace.
Elizabeth falls in love
Judging from this 1947 photo, Elizabeth was head over heels in love with her then-fiancé, Prince Philip.
Now that they are married, this 1947 photo shows just how happy Elizabeth and Philip were together.
Back on the radio
The more things change, the more they stay the same! In this 1947 photo, we can see a grown Elizabeth getting prepared to talk to the nation via BBC radio.
Elizabeth starts a family
It didn’t take long for Elizabeth and Philip to start a family! In this 1948 photo, we can see them posing with their infant son Prince Charles.
A royal event
When she attends royal events, the Queen really dresses to the nines! And in this 1950s photo, we can see her all gussied up for a special event.
The family grows
Pretty soon, Elizabeth and Philip had a daughter, Princess Anne. Here, we see a playful Anne reaching for daddy’s face in this 1951 photo.
In 1952, Elizabeth officially became the Queen of England at age 27. And this photo captures a moment from that special day.
Elizabeth keeps it simple
Even without much royal regalia, Elizabeth knows how to stun audiences. For proof, just check out this photo from 1952!
The Queen talks shop
Remember Elizabeth’s love of riding horses? In this 1980 photo, we can see that she knows exactly how to talk shop among fellow equestrians.