32 of the most heart-warming royal childhood photos, from happy siblings to the young Princess who would be Queen

They might grow up on the world stage, but these photos prove plenty of royals have relatable, sweet childhood memories

L - Princess Diana and Prince Harry, R - A young Queen Elizabeth holding her dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

William Shakespeare famously wrote "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" - and he wasn't wrong. 

The Royal Family - for all their glittering tiara moments and enviable tour moments spanning the globe - face the sort of pressures and scrutiny many cannot comprehend. 

Which is why it's refreshing that these photos - be it Prince William and Prince Harry doing relatable things like visiting theme parks to playing around or rarer photos of senior royals before life in the monarchy loomed - prove that, despite what the future might have in store, the royals still get plenty of happy childhood days. 

32 of the most heartwarming royal childhood photos

Prince Louis cuddles with mum

Kate Middleton and Prince Louis

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One of the youngest of the royal children, Prince Louis is known for stealing the show (and hearts around the world). Despite his young years meaning he sometimes misses out on some events attended by his older siblings, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, he really makes the most of his heart-warming appearances with his family. 

Proving that, just like any child, Mum is a safe space, Louis snuggled up to Kate Middleton during an adorable moment captured during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022. 

Gilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family by Tom Quinn, | Was £20, Now £9.73 at Amazon

Gilded Youth: An Intimate History of Growing Up in the Royal Family by Tom Quinn, | Was £20, Now £9.73 at Amazon

Exploring what it's like to grow up in the Royal Family, Tom Quinn brings together historical sources with testimonies from palace staff. There are tales of royal mischievousness, including surprising anecdotes about Queen Elizabeth and Prince William, and it's shocking, funny and insightful all at once.

Princes William and Harry - and their rocking horse

Princes William and Harry as young children

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These partners might have hit a bump in the road following Harry's decision to leave life as a working royal (and the subsequent publication of his book, Spare), but as young siblings, Princes William and Harry had a rocking time together. 

Taken at Kensington Palace in 1985 - the home they grew up in and where Princess Diana was allowed to remain following her split from King Charles up until she died in 1997 - a three-year-old William and his younger brother giddy on up on their respective rocking horses. The pair even wore matching outfits for the sweet snap, both sporting a blue-and-white checked shirt.

A young Elizabeth with her dogs

A young Queen Elizabeth II in 1936

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The late Queen's corgis were an iconic and symbiotic part of her historic 70-year reign. She made the dog breed synonymous with palaces and royalty, and it turns out, her bond to the breed was a lifelong one. 

In heart-warming snaps of a young Princess who would have no idea she'd go on to become Britain's longest-serving monarch in history, a young Elizabeth is caught playfully scooping up her dogs and giving one an affectionate hug. 

These photos are dated 1936, meaning the young Princess would only have been about 10 years old. 

Prince William practices his showmanship

Prince William in 1984

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As a future King, Prince William has had to learn to be a natural in front of the camera - but he's always had a cheeky way of commanding attention as this heart-warming photo proved. 

In the sweet snap, the two-year-old Prince is loving being the centre of attention at a press call which took place at Kensington Palace to mark his birthday. 

One is not amused

A young Prince Charles with the Queen Mother at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

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Heart-warming and a delightful reminder that, royal or not, a child will still be a child, a young Prince Charles was caught looking hilariously unimpressed at the coronation of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. 

He was stood with his mother, Queen Elizabeth - best known as The Queen Mother - and his aunt, Princess Margaret.

Aged four years old at the time, formality still reigned supreme for the royals. Despite being his mother, the then Prince Charles received a special hand-painted children's invitation to the Coronation. 

Charles and Anne at play

A young King Charles and Princess Anne

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King Charles and Princess Anne's sweet sibling bond has been an important relationship for both senior royals throughout the years. 

Born less than two years apart, the siblings were both incredibly young when their mother, Queen Elizabeth II, became the youngest-ever monarch at just 21. As their mother's life changed, so did theirs, with Charles becoming the heir apparent. 

Despite all the future titles and pressures awaiting, these cute photos prove that they were still able to have a fun childhood, playing and giggling together. 

William helps Harry learn to walk

A young Prince William and Prince Harry

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Prince Harry let his complicated feelings about Prince William be known in his bombshell memoir, Spare. 

Dubbing him both his "beloved brother" and "arch nemesis" at the same time, it's at least heart-warming to know that things were, at one time, much better between the brothers. 

In this adorable photo, William is shown being a protective older brother, instinctively leaping into action to help Harry attempt some first, uneasy steps.

A simple family picnic

The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew

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The late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip famously had a love for the simpler things, being at their happiest when out and about at Balmoral and getting to be a regular family together. 

In a sweet photo, the then family of five (Prince Edward wouldn't be born for another 12 years after this) posed in the grounds of Balmoral with huge grins - and joined by some of their family pets.

Birthdays with the grandparents

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with Prince Charles and Princess Anne

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In 1951, the Royal Family got together to celebrate the third birthday of Prince Charles. The first grandchild of King George VI and the Queen Mother, the pair look delighted to simply be playing the role of grandparents as they pose with Charles and his younger sister, Princess Anne.

This heart-warming photo becomes more special because it would be one of the last where the future King, Charles, got to sit for a photograph with his grandfather. George VI died in February 1952, three months later.

Prince George sees butterflies

Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George

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Prince George was the child who made Prince William and Kate Middleton parents, and royal fans were delighted to watch the pair grow from young love birds to a family. 

Inviting fans into some of their most special moments, one such heart-warming memory shared was George's first birthday.

The Prince and Princess of Wales shared a photo of the young family at the Natural History Museum in London in 2014, where George is full of awe at a butterfly. A reminder to look at life through the eyes of a child.

William and Harry with Gran

The Queen with a young Prince William and Harry

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To most people, Queen Elizabeth II was an icon - a permanent presence for a history-making 70 years on the throne. 

However, for the likes of a young Prince William and Prince Harry in 1987, she was just their grandmother. The couple enjoyed what appeared to be a fun day out at the Polo, smiling and listening intently as the horse-mad monarch shared her wisdom with her grandsons.


A young Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with their dogs

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Fate would give these two sisters very different paths, but, in this heart-warming photo taken before their father became King, making Elizabeth the heir, they were simply two sisters having plenty of fun.

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret became very different as time went by - with Elizabeth the dutiful Queen for 70 years and Margaret the larger-than-life sassy Princess, but they remained incredibly close. 

They were so close that they had a direct phone line between their homes so they could talk to each other whenever they wished, royal family friend Reinaldo Herrera wrote in Vanity Fair

Prince William and his pony

Prince William with a pony as a child

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A love of horses runs through the Royal Family, with the late Queen Elizabeth having a lifelong affinity. 

Like the young Queen who got her first pony as a young child, this heart-warming photo of a young Prince William shows his natural touch with animals as he gently steers a pony around a field.

Extra sweet points for his Mickey Mouse jumper. 

Prince Harry is all snuggles with mum

Two photos of Princess Diana and Prince Harry

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The joy and comfort on Prince Harry's face is heart-warming enough, and it showed how safe and happy the young prince was with his mother, the late Princess Diana.  Pictured while on holiday in Palma de Mallorca in 1987, the young prince looks totally adorable in pink dungarees and a red t-shirt. 

Prince William and Charlotte enjoying dad and daughter time

Prince William and Princess Charlotte

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Princess Charlotte is the only daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and, while we couldn't possibly speculate, there's probably no doubt that Charlotte has learnt how to be a true daddy's girl. 

Prince William looked full of pride as he posed with Charlotte on the slopes in 2016. 

The young Princess flashes the most heart-warming grin, perfect for fending off the cold as they pose at the French Alps.

Letting little brother take the wheel

King Charles riding a go-kart with Prince Edward

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Prince Edward and his oldest brother, the now King Charles, had a relatively big age gap - with 16 years separating the siblings. 

But, even with the now King being a sullen teenager when this heart-warming photo was taken, he proved that he would always be a fun and supportive role model for his youngest brother. 

Having fun with Edward, the pair were snapped racing Princess Anne in go-karts. 

Smiles from Prince Archie

Meghan Markle with Prince Archie

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Prince Archie's arrival in 2019 turned Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from a couple of loved-up newlyweds to a family. They would grow their brood in in 2021, when Princess Lilibet was born. 

The Sussexes tend to keep their children out of the spotlight, which is what makes this sweet photo of Mum, Dad and Archie all the more heart-warming. 

Everyone - including the young prince - are all smiles during an official meeting with Desmond Tutu. 

Cousins hit the slopes

Prince Harry, Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice and Prince William

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The royals sharing the trait of being sporty is something that definitely strengthens their bond, and it seemingly starts from a young age. 

In a heart-warming photo capturing the closeness between cousins, Princes William and Harry enjoy a family vacation to the slopes with their cousins, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. 

It's especially heartening to see Prince William step into protective older cousin mode, assisting his cousin with her ski gear. 

William's first salute?

Prince William as a child, saluting

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Looking like butter wouldn't melt, a young Prince William posed in the Parachute Regiment Uniform at the gardens of King Charles' Highgrove estate in 1986. 

While it can't be confirmed, this could be one of the Prince's first military salutes caught on camera - but far from his last. After university, William trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before serving with the Blues and Royals. 

He also flew for the RAF search and rescue team and served as an ambulance pilot for two years.

The Queen and her two youngest boys

The Queen reading with Prince Edward and Prince Andrew

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This cosy glimpse into the special bond between the late Queen Elizabeth II and her two youngest sons, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, was taken at Buckingham Palace during the 1971 Christmas Day television broadcast.

The sweet photo captures a moment of calm and unity that every family could relate to during the festivities. 

Brothers at play

Prince William and Harry playing on a fire engine

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Dressed in matching periwinkle blue coats, a young Prince William and Harry are snapped playing on a vintage fire engine on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in 1988. 

Both look fascinated by the vintage vehicle as their father, King Charles, watches over his curious sons.

Princess Margaret and her children

Princess Margaret and her family

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While Princess Margaret may be more famous for her decadent morning rituals and iconic looks, she also loved spending quality time with the family. 

Margaret had two children from her first marriage - David Armstrong-Jones and Lady Sarah Chatto.

Lady Sarah, with a cute bow matching her mother's style, is all grins in the photo. 

Per the Express, Margaret reportedly told the Queen before her death, "I may not have achieved very much - but I at least feel my life has not been wasted, because I have produced two happy and well-adjusted children."

Lady Louise and James, Earl of Wessex

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with their children

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Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie have long been a favourite couple for royal fans, known for being low-key but a source of strength to the likes of the late Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III. 

So it's no surprise that their family days out were equally as relatable and heart-warming, taking Lady Louise and James out for a fun day out when they were younger. 

The young James is all energy in his parent's arms as Louise looks adorable in her pink jacket and cap, sticking close to her parents.

Prince George keeps watch over Princess Charlotte

Prince George

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This heart-warming photo might have been taken at the christening of Princess Charlotte, but it's George who stole hearts with his adorable, instinctive big brotherly nature shining through. 

Having to stand on his tiptoes, the young Prince keeps a watchful eye over his younger sister as she is pushed around in her pram.

Charlotte and Louis hold hands

Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis

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King Charles III's Coronation in 2023 was one for the history books - the first crowning of a British monarch in 70 years, succeeding the longest serving sovereign of all time.

But, despite all the pomp and circumstance, some moments really shone through and captured that this was a family affair - like the heart-warming photo of Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis holding hands as they witnessed their grandfather's historic day. 

It showed Charlotte being the perfect bigger sister, keeping a watchful and caring eye over her youngest brother.

William and Harry head off to school

Prince William and Prince Harry in their school uniforms

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Is there anything more heartwarming than a first-day back-to-school photo? Most parents would argue it's a day of mixed emotions - watching their children blossom but also realising they're growing up quickly. 

In snaps of William and Harry heading off to Wetherby School, Notting Hill, a young Harry can't help but look back to his older brother for some moral support on the big change as Princess Diana looks on lovingly.

Prince George gets a very special visitor

Prince George with Barack Obama

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In any circumstances, seeing Prince George in his comfy looking robe, cosy as anything in Kensington Palace would be heart-warming enough. But in 2016, George met none other than President Barack Obama while kitted out in his fleecy robe. 

The adorable encounter saw President Obama crouch down to greet the Prince, who surely must have stayed up past his bedtime. 

For his late night efforts, he was reportedly gifted a wooden rocking horse by the President and First Lady Michelle. 

Princess Charlotte keeps Kate busy

Princess Charlotte and Kate Middleton

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Being the only daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales, one might assume Princess Charlotte was the archetypal typical princess - but, like her sporty, trailblazing mother, Charlotte proved she could keep more active and energised than anyone. 

Running around and keeping her mum on her toes, the heart-warming photos of Charlotte ruling the roost were a real treat for fans of the Wales family.

Prince William and Princess Diana

Two photos of Prince William and Princess Diana in 1990

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These heart-melting photos of the Prince of Wales and his late mother, Princess Diana capture a truly loving moment between mother and son. 

Being completely unguarded and affectionate, Prince William doesn't care about showing his mum plenty of affection as they attended the International Horse Show in Olympia, West London in 1990.

Prince Louis and his grandpa

King Charles and Prince Louis

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Prince Louis melted plenty of hearts when he simply couldn't resist cuddling up to his grandfather during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022.

Louis was given the middle name Charles, in honour of his grandfather, and it's heart-warming to see their bond. 

In 2013, Charles opened up about how he feels about being a grandparent, telling the Telegraph, being a grandparent is a "different part of your life."

"Show them things to take their interest. My grandmother did that; she was wonderful. It is very important to create a bond when they are very young."

Diana takes her boys to the theme park

Princess Diana, Prince Harry and Prince William

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Princess Diana was a fun mum, and the evidence is all over her son's beaming faces as she tried to help them experience some normal childhood memories during a visit to Thorpe Park in 1993.

Touching on the heart-warming way Diana raised him and his brother, Harry paid tribute at a tenth-anniversary service in 2007. 

Per BBC, he said, "William and I can separate life into two parts. There were those years when we were blessed with the physical presence beside us of both our mother and father.

"And then there are the 10 years since our mother’s death. When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivalled love of life, laughter, fun and folly. She was our guardian, friend and protector."

The girl who would be Queen, 1929

Two photos of Queen Elizabeth taken in 1929

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With short, curly blonde hair - which looked very similar to the childhood hair of Princess Anne - a three-year-old Princess Elizabeth looked positively angelic in these rare photos of the girl who would become Britain's longest-reigning queen in history. 

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born in 1926, and she was never really expected to be Queen.

The young Princess spent her childhood like most children do, playing with her sister, Princess Margaret and enjoying learning the piano, amongst other things written about by her former nanny, Marion Crawford in her book, The Little Princesses. 

It all changed when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson, and her father became King George VI. 

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

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