RSS
Casual royal family portraits: An incredibly short timeline
They're (kinda) just like us!
 

(Michael Middleton - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Monday debuted their son Prince George in a rather relaxed photo released by the family. The proud parents sit on a blanket in the backyard of Kate's parent's home, surrounded by family dogs that are otherwise engaged. William wears a collared shirt and jeans. Kate is in a cotton summer dress. The entire ensemble was captured not by a professional but by Kate's dad. If it weren't for their proper posture, you could almost mistake the handsome family for (gasp) civilians!

But while the British royals have a reputation for being, well, stodgy and unrelatable, Kate and William are not the only royals to roll up their sleeves and relax a little. Here, a brief pictorial look at the more casual side of royal family portraiture.


When do you feel most at ease? While on vacation, perhaps? That is why this seemingly stiff-looking portrait of Queen Victoria (center) and her extended family makes the cut. The 1898 photo was taken in the backyard of the family's summer retreat, Osborne House. While it's no cottage, the rural getaway and its lush backyard are significantly more casual than a palace backdrop would have been. Additionally, the holiday mentality means that not every element is in its perfect place. The blanket is ruffled, a woman is reading a paper, the boy on the far left is cracking a smile, and a dog made it into the picture. We're practically witnessing a hootenanny. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS)



Mary, Princess of Wales, sits with her children John (in her arms), George, Mary, and Henry (sitting on the ground). Sure, the upholstered bench is at odds with the outdoor vibe, but we're giving the future Queen Mary, wife of King George V, a pass. For one, the 1905 photo was taken at York Cottage, the family's "modest" royal home in the English countryside. Secondly, she doesn't even bother gathering all of her children for the portrait. Her two eldest, Edward and Albert — who would have been aged 10 and nine, respectively — apparently had better things to do. A mother too relaxed to keep her brood in check? That's a royal at ease. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS)



Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother poses with her daughters the future Queen Elizabeth II (left) and Princess Margaret in the garden of the Royal Lodge at Windsor in 1936. The three subjects wear wide grins and even show spur-of-the-moment affection, looping arms and holding hands. The girls' partially rolled socks and the mini-menagerie of dogs all point to an endearingly casual capture of royals in their semi-natural habitat. (Getty Images)



Queen Elizabeth II is all grown up with a family of her own in this 1960 photo. Prince Charles and Princess Anne may be wearing matching kilts, and, yes, the Queen is picnicking in a skirt suit Hillary Clinton would have envied. But the setting, the easy smiles, the puppy begging on the side, and the gentle way Anne is holding her baby brother Andrew's foot is as nonchalant as this family is going to get. (Bettmann/CORBIS)



Ah, here we are. Princess Diana and Prince Charles show what a casual family portrait is all about in this 1983 photo. Outdoor setting: Check. Picnic blanket: Check. Looking at your adoring son William instead of a camera? Perfection. We could do without Charles' double-breasted suit jacket for this afternoon on the lawn, but at least the grown-up William learned from that lesson. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

 
|

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week