Why this rare childhood photo of the Queen was a Royal Family first

The family portrait was arranged to meet the growing demand for royal photos

Why rare Queen's childhood photo was a Royal Family first
(Image credit: Getty)

A rare photo of the Queen as a child has been released—and it highlights an important milestone in the Royal Family's relationship with the public. 

A rare photo from the Queen's childhood has been shared by the Royal Collection Trust, in celebration of the anniversary of King George VI's ascension to the throne. 

The sweet group shot, which was captured by Marcus Adams in December 1936 four days after the late monarch came to power, was released in response to the growing demand for photos of the new Royal Family. The photo is likely to delight fans of the younger generation of royals, with the Queen's likeness to Princess Charlotte undeniably evident in the vintage snap. 

In the black-and-white photo, a ten-year-old Princess Elizabeth is seated with her younger sister, Princess Margaret, as well as her mother, Queen Elizabeth, and her father, King George VI. 

Wearing a sleeveless white gown and a delicate necklace, she is nestled between her parents while staring directly at the camera with a neutral expression. Six-year-old Margaret, who is dressed identically to her big sister, is sitting next to her mother on the far right of the picture. She appears slightly less serious than Princess Elizabeth, offering the camera a gentle smile while she clasps onto the Queen's hand. 

It's understood that the British society photographer had positioned the family to appear as close-knit as possible, in an attempt to reassure the country after the infamous scandal of King Edward VII's abdication. 

While they may seem like a modern phenomenon, demand for Royal Family photos actually dates back as early as the mid-1800s. 

As camera technology advanced throughout the 19th century, Britain's most iconic clan began to gradually let the public in on its decadent inner world—one grainy snapshot at a time. In 1860, Queen Victoria shook up the status quo when she allowed a series of carte-de-visite portraits of herself to be published, changing the relationship between the nation and the monarchy forevermore. 

By the 1920s, the Royal Family had fully embraced the importance of photography in curating their public image. As well as inviting trusted photographers, like Marcus Adams, into their various households, they also permitted the media to capture major royal events, such as coronations and weddings. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.