The past two years have been huge for the royal family.
With an engagement and wedding, a pregnancy and birth, the family has grown and found news reasons to celebrate even as the usual packed schedule of events and foreign trips continues.
For people constantly in the public eye, the royals are unsurprisingly great at shaking the right hands, smiling at the right moments, and generally keeping it all together to make sure they get things done.
But every now and again, even watching from a distance, we get a bit more than that. Away from the setpiece events, these are photos of the royals laughing, gawping, eye-rolling, and generally acting like normal folk.
Here are the best from 2017 and of 2018 so far.
In January 2017 Prince William made a solo venture to Centre Point, a homelessness charity in London. Here he plays a game with a young woman being helped by the charity (he has to guess the name on the note — which says “David Beckham”).
It’s not all relaxed though — here’s all three royals making a run for it at a sports event in east London in February.
Prince William had more fun and games trying to put up a tent blindfolded in Abergevenny, Wales, while launching a children’s award scheme.
The Duchess of Cambridge gets to meet some major dignitaries — including this 2017 St Patrick’s Day appearance where she gave a shamrock to Domhnall, an Irish Wolfhound and the Regimental Mascot of the British Army’s Irish Guards.
The next day, she and William were in Paris, and enjoyed a quiet moment looking out over Paris from behind the clock face of the city’s Musee D’Orsay.
There were sad times too. Here the Royal trio bow their heads outside a remembrance service held a few days after the terror attack on Westminster Bridge at the end of March.
But life goes on — and William and Kate were soon enjoying themselves again with bull horns at the London Marathron in late April.
Summer brings with it garden party season — here Prince Harry eggs on a young-looking Spider-Man to get stuck in to his slice of cake at a Buckingham Palace party for children whose parents were killed while in the UK armed forces.
Not long after, Kate’s sister Pippa Middleton got married. Here’s Kate looking after bridesmaid Princess Charlotte along with other children at the ceremony.
There was a cute father-son moment from Prince William, who made a face at Prince George while the family was gathered for the annual Trooping the Colour military parade.
There were more sombre scenes in the summer as the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death drew near. Here Harry and William look over old family photos in a documentary aired by ITV.
Not long after, William and Kate took a trip to Germany, and got the giggles trying to make pretzels in the town of Heidelberg.
The trip was a bit too much for Princess Charlotte, who threw a minor tantrum on the runway before a helicopter ride.
The princes have long been fans of advanced technology — especially helicopters, which both men flew for work. Here William looks very interested in helping to assemble a McLaren at a factory in Woking, Surrey.
Meanwhile Prince Harry made a trip to Toronto to see the Invictus Games for injured servicemen and women, where he met Barack Obama.
But his most entertaining ring-side moment was with two-year-old Emily Henson, who managed to steal most of Harry’s popcorn before he noticed.
Harry also took a moment to enjoy a spin in a tiny Land Rover, driven by five-year-old Daisy Gommers, during the games.
Later, he took time to hang out with this little guy behind the scenes of one Invictus event.
And he went from babies to bears — getting to meet a larger-than-life Paddington Bear at London’s Paddington Station in October.
Kate was also there, and went one better, joining him in a dance.
But William and Kate were not the couple of 2017 — here’s Harry and new fiancée Meghan Markle sharing a candid moment while filming their engagement interview with the BBC.
Another surreal royal moment came near the end of the year, at the European premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” when the BB-8 robot stopped in front of William and Harry on the red carpet and gave the bemused pair a bow.
But there was one more to come in 2017. At the annual royal outing to church at Sandringham, Norfolk a local mother, Karen Anvil, beat out the world’s media to get a super-sweet photo of both princes, Meghan Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge all posing together — a first.
— Karen Anvil (@Anvilius) December 25, 2017
The squad snap ended up getting Anvil big money as media all over the world reproduced her work on a slew of front pages and websites.
2018 has also been a busy year for the royal family. In January, Kate Middleton and Prince William visited Sweden, where Kate tried her arm at a form of ice hockey called Bandy hockey and William laughed along.
The pair knew their family would grow this year, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement, plus a new baby on the way. Here is the foursome laughing away at a Royal Foundation event in February, where Kate is visibly pregnant.
But the Queen was sure to remain in the public eye as the head of the family, chatting with American Vogue Editor Anna Wintour at the front row of London Fashion Week that same month.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s popularity with the public has continued. Here she is greeting some schoolchildren in Oxford in March.
But attention this year has mostly been on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Here’s Meghan giving her then-fiancé a loving look during a visit to Northern Ireland in March.
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, stayed in the public eye too. In March, he visited a wheelchair basketball team in London.
April saw a big royal moment — the birth of Prince Louis, who was shown to the world on the steps of the London hospital where Kate has given birth to all three of her children.
Princess Charlotte stole the show as she went to go and visit her newborn brother alongside her father, Prince William, and brother Prince George. The princess kept waving to the public as her father brought her in.
But the royal wedding in mid-May was the event of the year. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle often seemed oblivious to the world watching, and stole some genuine moments on their special day.
Intimate moments showed the couple at their most in love.
And the day highlighted the strong bond between the family’s two brothers, who stood awaiting the bride’s arrival.
But it was Princess Charlotte that stole the day once again, sticking out her tongue at the crowd as she arrived.
Dressed similarly to her mother, the three-year-old princess managed to capture everyone’s attention even just for sneezing.
The princess was in slightly worse spirits at the annual Trooping the Colour parade in June, which celebrates the Queen’s birthday. She shed a few tears after a small fall on the balcony, but was comforted by her mother.
Prince George, meanwhile, was given harsher treatment, with his cousin Savannah Phillips putting her hands over his mouth during a rendition of “God Save the Queen.”
A few days after the gathering, Meghan Markle and the Queen had their first joint public engagement at the opening of a bridge in Cheshire on June 14, and got on great.
The family was together again for Prince Louis’ christening on July 9, where Kate looked happy that her son managed to spend most of the day quietly sleeping.
The royals released a behind-the-scenes photograph of Prince Louis and Kate, and the mother and son looked radiant.
But, once again, Princess Charlotte was a highlight of the day, telling photographers on her way to a private afternoon tea: “You’re not coming.”
The family was together again the next day to watch the RAF fly past on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The royals snuck some laughs in between the air displays.
Meghan and Harry then jetted off to Ireland, where Meghan proved that she has gained a new host of fans who follow the monarchy. Crowds came to see Meghan and Harry in Dublin in July, and presented Meghan with flowers.
But she was perhaps most popular with the Irish president’s dogs, Bród and Síoda, during a visit to the president and first lady’s residence, Áras an Uachtaráin.
The couple had another cute interaction when three-year-old Walter Cullen playfully tugged at Meghan’s hair at Croke Park stadium, earning a playful telling off from Harry.
And Harry charmed his country when he said that football was “most definitely” coming home, predicting an England victory at the World Cup. Here’s the cheeky smile he gave when a journalist posed the question. Unfortunately, England lost their next game and got knocked out of the tournament.
The trip wasn’t all fun, however. There were somber scenes as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited the memorial for the Irish Famine, which killed one million people in the 1840s and 1850s.
Queen Elizabeth fulfilled her duties from home, where she welcomed US President Donald Trump on July 13.
Things seemed more relaxed when Meghan joined Kate for a day at Wimbledon on July 14, marking the first time the pair stepped out solo together. The pair laughed together and seemed invested in the tennis.
William took Meghan’s place the following day for the Men’s Singles Final, and the couple seemed delighted to spend time together.
And Harry also proved his own athleticism when he competed in the polo on July 16.
He shared a kiss with Meghan on stage at the event, showing a moment of intimacy that we don’t usually get to see between royals – and hopefully symbolizing even more happy moments to come for the family.
One of those moments was Prince George’s birthday on July 21. We were treated to a photo — and it shows just how fast the young royal is growing.
But the royal family has to balance official functions with personal celebrations. On August 8, Prince William journeyed to France to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of Amiens with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
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