Times have changed since then-Princess Elizabeth’s first child was born in 1948, but the longest-reigning English monarch still intrigues people worldwide. While her childbearing years didn’t happen during the time of pregnancy selfies and Snapchats, there are still a handful of photographs of the Queen during at least a few of her four pregnancies.
Between Charles in 1948, Anne in 1950, Andrew in 1960, and Edward in 1964, you would expect to have seen a lot more photographs of a pregnant Elizabeth II than what exists. However, because Elizabeth wasn’t crowned Queen until 1952- when she already had two children- her first two pregnancies largely flew under the radar. It would also seem that becoming Queen took some getting used to in more ways than one, because Elizabeth and her husband Philip didn’t have their second pair of children until a decade later.
As she looks on during the births of her great-grandchildren, children of Prince William and his Duchess Kate, it’s not difficult to imagine Elizabeth as a young mother herself, carrying four babies and tending to them carefully over the years. At the same time, it’s hard to produce photographic evidence of her rounded tummy during those times.
Even before she became Queen, Princess Elizabeth had plenty of royal duties. Because her father, King George VI, was often ill in his later years, Princess Elizabeth had to stand in under certain circumstances. In this case, it was the inspection of a Guard of Honor at a war memorial event. The Royal Warwickshire Regiment stood at the ready for the Princess’ inspection in May of 1948.
Later that year, Elizabeth would give birth to her first child, Charles, well before becoming queen. At this point, the focus wasn’t so much on Elizabeth. When she was a child, it wasn’t even thought that Elizabeth would become queen, because her uncle, Edward, was first in line to the throne, followed by her father, and then Elizabeth. But Edward VIII would later abdicate the throne for a marriage to a twice-divorced American woman, making George VI king and Elizabeth heir presumptive.
The Guardian, in an archived article from 1948, called Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s first official visit to France “a charm offensive.” But apparently, the visit didn’t do much to bring the French and the English together. The article continues that the French people were disappointed in Princess Elizabeth’s style of dress, for one, and also that she was too hovered-over by policemen and her official guards.
It seems that the French were hoping for a much friendlier post-war visit, including a somewhat informal get-together with the Princess and her husband, but they were disappointed. The level of secrecy that surrounded such events like the French President’s “imported” lunch disappointed local reporters and made the event less amicable than it could have been for everyone involved, the Guardian contributor wrote.
Then-Princess Elizabeth and Philip, who at the time did not possess a royal title, were married in November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. By that time the following year, baby Charles was born. That means that the Queen fell pregnant sometime early in spring 1948. Therefore, when she attended the derby in June, she was likely in her first trimester.
From the photos, it’s hard to tell whether Elizabeth is pregnant at all, but since it was her first child, she likely didn’t show until at least five months along or later. Along with Philip, Elizabeth attended the Epsom Derby with her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother). While Duchess Kate has reportedly been ill with hyperemesis gravidarum with all three of her pregnancies, we can assume the Queen was spared any morning sickness- or if she had it, she didn’t show it!
As the Royal Albert Hall website reports, this newly discovered photo of the Princess, who was 22 at the time, shows her interacting with children who performed a musical talent show at Royal Albert Hall. When this photo was taken, Elizabeth would have been about five months or so pregnant, although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the slight size of her tummy. The event took place on June 9th, 1948.
The Princess reportedly watched a show in which boys and girls showed their physical prowess, performed on hornpipes, did a gun drill, and performed London Town for the Princess and other attendees. Then, Princess Elizabeth distributed prizes which were sent by Queen Mary. Two young children presented the Princess with flowers afterward, which she accepted with a smile.
Although Elizabeth and Philip’s first two children were born before she became Queen, there’s a large gap between Charles and Anne and the couple’s second set of children, Andrew and Edward. At the time this photo was taken, Prince Charles had just turned one year old, on November 14th1949. Princess Anne, the only daughter of the Queen, was born August 15th, 1950. Therefore, Elizabeth may have already been if only a few weeks pregnant at the time of Charles’ first birthday photo shoot.
It would seem that Elizabeth and Philip were in a hurry to start their family, and it’s sad to think that the passing of Elizabeth’s father in 1952, the family was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. At the same time, becoming Queen meant that the couple’s plans to expand their family had to be postponed for a decade.
This photo, purportedly from July of 1950, features then-Princess Elizabeth with her sister, Princess Margaret. Elizabeth’s only sibling, Margaret was the younger child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. At the time this photo was taken, Elizabeth would have been nearly through with her pregnancy with Anne, who was born in August 1950. It’s difficult to tell from this angle, but if the dating of the photo is correct, that could be a baby belly under the Princess’ coat.
For the two young women, 1950 would have been a less stressful time compared to the years following, in which their father would pass away, Elizabeth would ascend the throne, and 22-year-old Margaret would ask the Church of England for permission to marry a once-divorced man. Margaret was always considered a controversial member of the royal family, even up until her death in 2002.
Throughout Queen Elizabeth’s reign, she has had thirteen different prime ministers serve her, twelve at the time that CNN reported on them. Of those, Winston Churchill was the first, and Theresa May is the most recent. The initial meeting between Churchill and the Queen was documented by a photographer on March 23rd, 1950, and he served from 1951 until 1955.
Since the Queen’s second child, Anne, was born in August of 1950, we can assume that in March, Elizabeth was already a few months along. However, Elizabeth has never been much for publicity when it comes to her pregnancies, as we’ll later see. So it’s no surprise that with Anne, Kensington Palace simply released a statement that noted, “Her Royal Highness… will undertake no public engagements after the end of June,” according to the New York Times.
Presumably photographed on one of her Derby outings, then-Princess Elizabeth was reportedly pregnant with daughter Anne. This image was taken in 1950, but apparently early enough in her pregnancy that she could still conceal her belly. However, the interesting design of this dress and coat combination, with a low neckline, layers, and an offset bow distract from a potentially burgeoning bump. Even the large hat matches the ensemble, and probably distracted photographers and reporters from the shy Princess’ stomach.
The ultimate style note of this outfit is the gloves, though- which makes us think that maybe the photograph was taken in winter or early spring as opposed to summer, when most of the derbies seem to have taken place. That said, we’re glad Elizabeth didn’t take on the style choice of the person to the right of her, who seems to be wearing a fur coat.
For Princess Elizabeth’s 24th birthday, she and her husband Philip, by then the Duke of Edinburgh, stayed at a villa in Malta. The year was 1950, and Elizabeth’s April birthday meant that she was only four months away from delivering her second child, Anne. During her second pregnancy, Elizabeth’s husband was on duty with the British Navy, and so Elizabeth visited at Earl Mountbatten’s villa.
BT recorded the memorable ways Queen Elizabeth II has celebrated her birthdays over the decades, and as the family grew, the children were included in those celebrations, as well. For her 35th birthday, Elizabeth went to Badminton to see horse riding with 12-year-old Prince Charles. Then in 1965, once their family was complete, the couple and their kids posed for photos with the youngest child, Edward, in his pram.
In this photograph reportedly taken in 1959, Queen Elizabeth II was likely pregnant with Andrew, who was born in February of 1960. The family’s former nanny, a woman named June Waller, joined the royal household in March 1960, the Daily Mail reported, just weeks after Andrew’s arrival. The publication shared letters written from June to a friend named Sheila Wake, letters which documented the nanny’s days with the three children, and later the fourth, as well.
Prince Andrew was the first baby born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria, and the nanny noted that both she and the Queen kept close tabs on the infant. In her letters, June documented Andrew’s growth and his new teeth, and even the type of formula he was eating and how the family interacted with him.
In 1957, BBC America reports, President Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to the United States as queen. However, he had previously met her while she was still a princess, and became friendly with her parents. Then in August 1959, President Eisenhower flew to the royal estate Balmoral, in Scotland. With Prince Andrew born in February 1960, the Queen was already months along, although her stylish yellow ensemble doesn’t show it.
The Queen has always maintained a regal countenance, but it’s hard to imagine the follow-up to the former President’s visit to the family estate: Queen Elizabeth II later handwrote a letter to Eisenhower, including a recipe for drop scones which she had apparently promised him months prior. What a woman- to be hosting presidents, impressing the public, and remembering scone recipes while the rest of us can’t manage to find our keys while pregnant!
As the Halifax archives noted, Queen Elizabeth’s visit with Dartmouth Mayor Creed Hollis in 1959 correlated with the matriarch’s third pregnancy. However, while it was obvious the Queen was expecting, the public had not been informed yet via an official announcement. Therefore, no mention of the child (Prince Andrew) was made during the visit.
It’s not surprising, however, given the Queen’s tendency to keep personal matters private. The regal Queen apparently thought it undignified to share details of her pregnancies with the public, and her official announcements tended to contain apologies for cancelling engagements rather than excitement about new royal babies. At the same time, we can assume that Andrew’s birth may not have been planned, since it had been nearly ten years since the couple’s last child was born.
In November of 1959, Queen Elizabeth II was photographed with her daughter, Anne, preparing to take a boat out at Frogmore. Windsor Castle. The estate is comprised of 33 acres of gardens, including a number of ponds. What’s perhaps most interesting about the image is that both Elizabeth and Anne are wearing pants. It’s interesting because we typically only ever see the royal women in dresses, but it’s also notable because in the photo, the Queen was less than four months away from giving birth to her third child.
We’ve got to hand it to her- the Queen knows how to dress a bump, even when it’s in 50’s-era pants and an uncomfortable looking coat. Then again, we kind of just love this photo because the Corgi is photobombing them.
From the image, we can assume Queen Elizabeth II was heavily pregnant with Andrew, the photograph being dated 1960. The Queen’s third pregnancy may have been the most visible of them all, what with her public appearances with Mayor Creed Hollis, President Dwight Eisenhower, and this enchanting family walk with some of the royal pets.
We know the Queen is a fan of Corgis, but there seem to be more than just the short-legged cuties in this photo. Also along for the walk is Prince Charles, who was about twelve at the time. This is one case where the Queen didn’t seem too worried about covering up her bump, since this rather large coat isn’t hiding a whole lot. Then again, maybe she was so far along in the pregnancy that it didn’t matter how awkward she looked, she just had to get out of the house.
The least photographed of all of the Queen’s pregnancies, her fourth spanned the later part of 1963. Prince Edward was born in March of 1964, meaning that at the time this photo was taken (November 1963), the Queen was in her second trimester. She still seems to be using the tummy-covering techniques of prior pregnancies, but at the same time, at the age of 37, she had probably gotten over her embarrassment over being pregnant in public.
With their fourth child, Queen Elizabeth II and Philip Duke of Edinburgh’s family was complete. Over the years, the Queen has seen her children marry, have children, and even divorce, but as she and her husband celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in November 2017, a staggering testament to their commitment to one another throughout the Queen’s reign.