In the near-century she lived, Queen Elizabeth II sat for countless royal portraits. Not to mention she was photographed by millions of press cameras as well as, towards the end of her life, smartphones.
Some photos have become iconic, such as the portraits from her 1947 wedding day or the sad snap of her standing alone at Prince Philip’s 2021 funeral.
But others have been swallowed up in the royal archives, just waiting for inquisitive royal fans to stumble across these hidden gems.
Rare candid photos and previously unseen family portraits show a side of the Queen we rarely saw, from her fiery teen years to her longstanding love of corgis.
In honour of Her Majesty’s incredible life and legacy following her death on September 8, 2022, we’re reliving some of her greatest unseen moments from the 1930s to now.
It’s time to delve into the royal archives and unearth some of the best and rarest photos of the Queen you’ve probably never seen.
The royal family marked the Queen’s 96th birthday in 2022 with this rare image of her as a toddler, alongside the caption: “Then Princess Elizabeth, she was the eldest daughter of The Duke and Duchess of York and was never expected to become Queen.
“Her life changed in 1936 when her uncle, King Edward VIII abdicated, her father became King George VI and the young Princess became the heir presumptive.”
The then Princess Elizabeth picks flowers in the early 1930s in a photo snapped by her father George VI.
The princess grew up with her beloved corgi dogs at 145 Piccadilly, London, where this rare family photo was taken in July 1936.
By 1940, when this image was taken, Elizabeth and her family were living at Windsor Castle and she was growing into a prim young royal.
There she and sister Princess Margaret spent countless happy days with their father and mother, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort to King George VI.
In 1941 the sisters were snapped with their unusual pet, a small chameleon. Who would’ve expected the Queen to own such an exotic critter?
In 1944, when they attended a royal pantomime production of Old Mother Red Riding Boots at Windsor Castle, Elizabeth had grown into a young woman.
While on board the HMS Vanguard in 1947, Princess Elizabeth was caught playing tag with midshipmen in a rare candid photo.
A stunning official royal portrait of the Queen from the 1950s shows her fashion sense was seriously sharp for 70 years.
It was young love as newlyweds Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip danced the samba during a ball in 1950.
Here they are the following year, arriving at the London Coliseum to attend a Gala Midnight Matinee dressed up to the nines.
Prince Philip stole a tender moment at his wife’s 1953 coronation, giving a kiss of homage to the Queen.
A year after she was crowned, Her Majesty donned a tiara and a smile at a banquet with Philip in Australia.
Laughter was at the heart of their marriage, as seen in this happy snap from their 1961 visit at the Northern Province of Sierra Leone.
That same year the Queen, who is always up for an adventure, enjoyed an elephant ride at Benares during a tour of India.
In this rare family portrait from 1965 the Queen appears less as a monarch and more as a mother with all four of her children at her side.
Years later, in 1969, the royal family were photorgaphed at home together, the Queen watching over daughter Anne’s shoulder as she reads.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent much of their private time at their Balmoral Estate in Scotland, where this intimate picture was taken on their Silver Wedding anniversary year in 1972.
Her Majesty’s other life-long love was her corgis, who accompanied her to Aberdeen Airport in this photo from 1974.
She’s just like us! Her Majesty was snapped looking like every dog owner in this hilarious picture from Windsor in 1977.
But it’s not all fun and games when you’re a monarch; here the ever dutiful Queen sits ahorse in the rain during in 1977.
She also had to put up with a few frustrating moments, like this one where she was photographed waving a finger duirng a meeting with Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Emir of Bahrain in 1979.
And here she looks unamused as she waits for King Hassan in Marrakech during her state visit to Morocco in 1980.
There were other candid moments with the monarch caught on camera in the 1980s, including this greeting kiss she received from Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
The following year she was caught off-guard as she sipped from a coconut during a trip to Fiji.
In 1982 she was pictured showing US President Ronald Reagan how it’s done on horseback during his visit to the UK.
At Royal Ascot in 1990 the royal reminded the world she’s not above carrying her own umbrella in the rain.
In 1993 she headed to Budapest where she showed off her colourful style in this matching polka-dot hat and suit by Marie O’regan and Ian Thomas respectively.
Speaking of fashion, Her Majesty was spotted cosying up to none other than Vogue‘s Anna Wintour in 2018 at a London fashion show.
The Queen has sat for countless royal portraits through the years, but it’s the rare candid photos like this one from 1997 that capture who the monarch really was.