THEN AND NOW: 24 photos that show how royal life has changed over the years

Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty ImagesThe royal family is different than it used to be.
  • There used to be only one paparazzo that would photograph the royal family. Now there are hundreds.
  • It used to be taboo to marry someone who was divorced, but now Meghan Markle is a duchess.
  • Younger royals tend to be less strict about observing protocol.

The monarchy looks and feels different than it did when Queen Elizabeth began her reign in 1952. Some strict rules have been relaxed or changed, and younger members of the royal family continue to incorporate elements of modernity into their lives.

Here’s how royal life has changed over the years.


The ceiling in the White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace was designed by John Nash.

The Print Collector/Getty ImagesThe White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace pictured in 1901.

Nash redesigned much of Buckingham Palace in the 1800s.


While some of the furniture has been swapped out, much of the room’s original decor remains.

Xinhua/Han Yan via Getty ImagesThe White Drawing Room today.

There’s a hidden door disguised as a mirror and cabinet where the Queen enters to greet guests.


Queen Elizabeth used to hold her grandchildren on her lap at events.

Alisdair MacDonald/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth and Zara Phillips in 1984.

Elizabeth held Zara Phillips on her lap at a polo match at Smith’s Lawn in Windsor in 1984.


Now, her grandchildren attend events with her as adults.

Indigo/Getty ImagesThe Queen with Zara Phillips, now Tindall.

Zara Phillips, now Tindall, attended an event on the Ascot Racecourse with the Queen in 2012.


Ray Bellisario, known as “Britain’s first paparazzo,” was one of the first photographers to take unofficial and informal photographs of the royal family.

Popperfoto/Getty ImagesRay Bellisario in 1962.

Legend has it that Princess Margaret once called him “That bloody Bellisario,” according to The Daily Mail.


Now, hundreds of photographers follow the royals’ every move.

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty ImagesPhotographers gathered outside the hospital after Kate Middleton gave birth to Princess Charlotte in 2015.

Chris Jackson serves as the royal family’s photographer, but taking pictures of royals is a booming business.


The Church of England used to forbid marriage after divorce.

King Edward VIII caused a scandal when he signed his abdication papers after less than a year on the throne so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée.


The ban has since been lifted, paving the way for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s love story.

The Church of England has allowed marrying after divorce since 2002.


Queen Elizabeth’s wedding was broadcast by BBC Radio in 1947.

Elizabeth had to use clothing ration coupons to pay for her wedding dress after World War II.


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding was broadcast by 15 different networks in the US alone.

Ben STANSALL – WPA Pool/Getty ImagesPrince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George’s Chapel.

Nielsen reported that 29.2 million people in the US watched Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. There were also 6.9 million interactions on social media about the big day.


The Queen gave birth to all of her children at home.

PA Images via Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with baby Princess Anne.

Prince William was the first direct heir to the throne who was born in a hospital.


Not only are royal babies now delivered in hospitals, royals greet photographers outside hours after giving birth.

Jack Taylor/Getty ImagesPrince William and Kate Middleton with Prince Louis.

Kate Middleton’s stylist meets her at the hospital to help her get camera-ready.


Royal births used to be announced via a bulletin posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace.

PA Images via Getty ImagesA bulletin announcing the birth of Prince Andrew is posted at Buckingham Palace in 1960.

When Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Andrew in 1960, the palace superintendent posted the bulletin as a crowd of 2,000 waited outside the gates for the news, according to Getty.


These days, birth announcements are posted on the official Kensington Palace Twitter as well as the palace gates.

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesKensington Palace announces Prince Louis’ birth on Twitter in 2018.

According to the BBC, the post can only go up on social media after the formal announcement is displayed at Buckingham Palace.


Sons used to take precedence over daughters in the line of succession.

Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThen-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip with their baby daughter Princess Anne and son Prince Charles in 1950.

Succession to the throne is regulated by Parliament. The rule used to be that even if a daughter was older, boys were automatically higher in the line of succession.


The Succession to the Crown Act came into effect in 2015 and changed the male primogeniture rules.

Kensington PalacePrincess Charlotte gives younger brother Prince Louis a kiss.

Before this change, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s youngest son Prince Louis would have been ahead of his older sister Princess Charlotte in the line of succession simply because he’s male. Now, Princess Charlotte is fourth and Prince Louis is fifth.


Royals used to put on Christmas pantomimes for the holidays.

Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in costume in 1941.

In Queen Elizabeth’s youth, she and her sister Princess Margaret put on Christmas productions at Windsor Castle. In “Cinderella,” Queen Elizabeth played Prince Florizel and Princess Margaret played Cinderella and produced the play for the benefit of the Royal Household Concert Wool Fund.


Rumour has it that the royal family now exchanges hilarious gifts on Christmas Eve.

Getty ImagesMembers of the royal family at Sandringham for Christmas 2018. From left: Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry.

Members of the royal family are fond of getting each other gag gifts like shower caps and toilet seats, according to The Sun. They also play charades and pop open Christmas crackers.


The Queen used to lead the Trooping the Colour parade on horseback.

Trooping the Colour celebrates the Queen’s official birthday in a tradition that goes back more than 260 years and involves over 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians marching from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade.


These days, she sits in a horse-drawn carriage.

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth at Trooping the Colour in 2018.

Since she began her reign in 1952, the queen has attended the parade in outfits varying from official uniforms to impeccably matched coats and hats.


Bowing or curtsying to royalty used to be necessary.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesCharlie Chaplin bows to Princess Margaret in 1952.

It was the proper greeting for members of the royal family.


While it remains the traditional greeting, royals today often opt for a less formal approach.

WPA Pool/Getty ImagesKate Middleton arriving at a royal engagement with a handshake.

According to the royal family’s official website, “There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting the Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms.”

Royal expert Victoria Arbiter previously told INSIDER that bowing or curtsying to royalty is not necessary.

“Certainly with the Queen because she’s the Queen and the older generation, you would most definitely want to curtsy,” she said. “The younger generations are a lot more relaxed when it comes to curtsying, so it’s certainly not a requirement, but it comes down to greeting someone with respect.”


Royals used to keep their distance from commoners.

Popperfoto/Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth visiting Toronto in 1973.

They would wave, smile, and make pleasant conversation, but maintained a dignified distance.


Younger royals aren’t afraid to break protocol and go in for a hug.

When it comes to strict rules of royal protocol, even Queen Elizabeth herself has been known to brush them aside, calling them “rubbish.”

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