Unseen Royal Family Photos Go on Display at Buckingham Palace, Including Queen Elizabeth in New Mom Mode

Some of the display’s visuals are too sensitive to be left up all the time.

With great pleasure, Buckingham Palace announces the release of an astounding array of never-before-seen images from the royal archives.

The unique exhibition “Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography” at The King’s Gallery inside Buckingham Palace is scheduled to debut on May 17 and will highlight the development of royal portrait photography from the 1920s to the present. More than 150 one-of-a-kind pieces from the Royal Collection and Royal Archives will be on show, with many of these old prints appearing for the first time. A unique look into the creative processes behind these historical photos is provided by the show, which also features unseen proofs and archival correspondence.

A poignant 1964 portrait of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, and the then-Duchess of Kent holding their babies is one of the most notable items. This heartwarming photo was taken by Princess Margaret’s husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, as a special thank-you to royal obstetrician Sir John Peel, who assisted in the delivery of all four babies in less than two months. Princess Margaret is holding her daughter Lady Sarah tenderly while Queen Elizabeth is grinning at the camera and holding Prince Edward, the youngest of her four children.

Snowdon, the Royal Collection Trust, and Camera Press

Images of Queen Elizabeth’s parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, taken during World War II make up another moving section of the display. Cecil Beaton captured these pictures with the intention of bringing stability and hope during tumultuous times. Notable images of the royal couple taken in 1940 at Buckingham Palace include a dramatic view of them assessing bomb damage and a sweet family photo taken in 1943 at Royal Lodge in Windsor, which shows Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret as little children gathered around their father’s desk.

Snowdon, the Royal Collection Trust, and Camera Press

The thrill and exclusivity of this event is further enhanced by the fact that the Royal Collection Trust emphasizes that these vintage photos cannot be permanently shown due to conservation needs. The display covers an amazing range of historical periods, including the first color image of a member of the royal family, Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 coronation portrait, the Queen’s sparkling painting by Andy Warhol from 1985, and even Kate Middleton’s arresting 40th birthday shot.

It’s interesting to note that Kate’s milestone birthday portrait will be on display next to a portrait of Princess Alexandra from 1864, which it looks a lot like.

Charles III, His Majesty, Royal Collection Trust, 2024

The audio guide for this fascinating exhibit, which is narrated by the adored Dame Joanna Lumley, includes commentary from well-known photographers Rankin and John Swannell. Hugo Burnand has also contributed to the guide; he has a long-standing professional relationship with King Charles and Queen Camilla, having taken their formal coronation photographs in May 2023.

Paolo Reversi/Royal Collection Trust Photographer

Exhibiting photographs by renowned photographers including David Bailey, Annie Leibovitz, Polly Borland, and Dorothy Wilding, this show is sure to thrill royal photography enthusiasts.


Remember to put dates in your calendars! The King’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace will unveil “Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography” on May 17. This is a unique chance to experience history unfold before your eyes as a unique collection of royal moments are captured via the skill of photography.

Charles III, His Majesty, Royal Collection Trust, 2024

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