The British royal family has carried out approximately 50,000 royal engagements since World War II. Royals often pose for formal photos on these occasions, but a new book of never-before-seen photos features pictures taken by the people behind the barriers.
“The Crown from the Crowd” contains over 250 photos of the royal family taken by members of the public where they look “genuinely relaxed and unguarded” – a rare feat when their public behaviour is dictated by a strict protocol. Published by Photobox to commemorate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding, all profits from the book will be donated to Help for Heroes, a charity that supports military veterans.
Here are 24 photos of the royal family taken by their loyal subjects.
Lisa Hornal’s grandmother couldn’t believe she asked the future king for a selfie.
“My gran loved the royals and instilled that in all of us. I heard they were visiting to open the Commonwealth Arena and wanted to say I’d seen them. I took the opportunity to ask Prince William for a selfie which he happily agreed to. I’ll never forget gran’s shock when she heard I’d asked the future king for a photo. She loved that photo though, and showed it to everyone.”
Photographer Brook Rose O’Brien remembers Prince Harry’s visit as “such a great and exciting day.”
“The photo was taken in July 2017 at the presentation of the new queen’s colour for the RAF Regiment, presented by HRH Prince Harry at RAF Honington. Prince Harry was greeting everyone so I managed to get this lovely picture as he was talking to us. It was such a great and exciting day.”
Photographer Paul Ratcliffe caught Prince Charles cruising in his Aston Martin.
“HRH The Prince of Wales drives his Aston Martin into Windsor Castle after attending Royal Ascot 1992.”
Queen Elizabeth visited the Bahamas early on in her reign.
“Nassau, Bahamas, around late 1950 or 1960, quite early on when she became queen.”
Princess Diana used to frame David Butler’s photos of her family.
“I took this in Birmingham on a working visit for her. I used to see her quite often. I had previously given the princess photographs I took of William and Harry taken in 1992. Until recently, I never knew that she had liked them enough to take them home and frame them along with personal family shots. The framed photos were displayed at Buckingham Palace last summer and were personally selected by the boys to be displayed on her desk to mark 20 years since her death. Of the hundreds of photographs taken I am incredibly proud that she chose to keep mine and display them in her home. I feel truly lucky to have known her for the short time she was around in public life, during which she made such a difference to so many people’s lives.”
When Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Leeds in 2012, Kevin Johnson had a front-row view.
“This image was taken the day the Queen and the Duke Of Edinburgh visited Leeds and treated us to a walkabout. I’d never been lucky enough to be at a royal walkabout before, and the fact it was happening in my city really added to the thrill. The crowds really turned out to welcome Her Majesty and we were lucky enough to secure a front row viewing spot having arrived so early.”
“Our waiting paid off as the Queen passed by right in front of us, and the Duke even stopped for a little chat!” Johnson said.
“I still can’t believe how lucky we were to see her so close!”
Princess Diana visited a nursery school classroom and tried to steer clear of the cornflour kids were playing with.
“Princess Diana was visiting my daughter’s nursery in SW14. My daughter is the one on the end of the table looking at her friend as though to say ‘Who did you say this was?’ (She is about six months old in the picture.) Princess Diana was very amused at all the cornflour being thrown around and made sure she didn’t get too close!”
Paul Ratcliffe chose just the right moment to snap a candid photo of Queen Elizabeth.
“Her Majesty the Queen on a walkabout outside Crewe Railway Station. I just pressed the camera shutter button at the right moment and got what looks like a posed photo!!!”
Nick Turner regards this photo taken by his wife’s grandfather as “treasured memories of the royal couple.”
“Taken by my wife’s grandfather while travelling in the Congo. Treasured memories of the royal couple. A letter from the late Queen Mother confirming the information is also in our possession.”
Meghan Markle smiled as she walked into Millennium Point in Birmingham.
“Meghan Markle pictured on her visit to Birmingham’s Millennium Point. One of the many engagements she and Prince Harry undertook prior to their wedding.”
Pauline and David Roberts excitedly told Prince Charles why they loved living in the village of Froncysyllte.
“This picture is of my mother and stepfather, Pauline and David Roberts, explaining to the Prince of Wales why their village of Froncysyllte is a great place to live. My mother’s excitement and Prince Charles’ amusement is written all over their faces and demonstrated by their frenetic gesturing. Sadly they have both since died, but this picture always makes me smile and reminds me of the endless tales of the day they met Prince Charles! It also sums up how our royal family spreads so much happiness across the land.”
Queen Mary visited a children’s home in Batheaston during World War II.
“A photo showing our mum, a senior nurse, with colleagues and (doubtless bemused) children when Queen Mary visited Denewood Grange, Batheaston. The home was run, in those days, by the Waifs & Strays Society and housed children evacuated from London and elsewhere.”
Photographer David Butler remembers the Queen Mother as “effortlessly charming.”
“This was taken whilst the Queen Mother was on holiday at the Castle of Mey in August, 1992. She had turned up to watch the local sheep dog trials and support the event. As ever she was a dream to photograph, turning in her car seat to ensure I got the shot. She had a wonderful knack of making you feel very special and each time I was lucky enough to meet her, she was effortlessly charming.”
Camilla Parker Bowles let out a laugh at a joke made by the Lord Lieutenant.
“The Duchess of Cornwall visits Rotherham General Hospital. The Duchess had entrusted an aide with her handbag, was getting in her car and remembered she had forgot it, and burst out laughing when the Lord Lieutenant joked there’d been a theft!”
Photographer Julie Mason couldn’t believe that Princess Diana stopped to talk to people waiting outside a hotel before walking in.
“Another picture from Diana’s 30th birthday […] After she got out of the car, she had her back to us and shook hands with all the officials. We thought she would go straight inside, but instead she turned toward the crowd waiting across from the hotel entrance. When she started to walk toward us I couldn’t believe us – I had waited 10 years for this moment. She was beautiful.”
Princess Anne was a guest at a gala for the charity Save the Children in 1994.
“HRH Princess Anne visits a Save the Children Gala at Pontefract Racecourse.”
Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is celebrated with an annual Trooping the Colour parade in London.
“HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip take part in the procession on the Queen’s Official Birthday (Trooping the Colour) in London.”
She’s ridden through town many times throughout her reign.
“HM the Queen makes her way to the Trooping the Colour Ceremony, held on Horse Guards Parade, London.”
The queen looked radiant on her 90th birthday in 2016, even from a distance.
“HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip on her 90th Birthday, taking an open ride through the streets of Windsor.”
When photographer Sarah Hillyar encountered Princess Diana at the end of a long day, “she still had a big smile on her face and looked as fresh as a daisy!”
“Princess Diana at the end of a very long day in Portsmouth as Colonel in Chief of the Royal Hampshire Regiment. She still had a big smile on her face and looked as fresh as a daisy!”
Princess Anne held a plastic bag as she left a royal engagement.
“Anne, Princess Royal, visits Wakefield’s Citizens Advice Bureau in 1989. She left holding a plastic bag commemorating 50 years of free and impartial advice by the organisation.”
Amanda Smyth captured a candid photo of Prince Charles in 2015.
“Taken in Templemore Avenue, East Belfast.”
Seeing Princess Diana in person was “mesmerising,” said Sharon Libby.
“Fantastic day when she was given Freedom of the City of Portsmouth… it was mesmerising to see her so close up…!!!!”
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