How Royal Life Has Changed Over the Years

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

The White Drawing Room today.
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There’s a hidden door disguised as a mirror and cabinet where the Queen enters to greet guests.

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

Ray Bellisario in 1962.
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Bellisario started following the royals in the 1950s, and according to the Guardian, the royal family was not fans of the photographer.

Bellisario once tried to send the Queen a copy of his 1972 photography book “To Tread on Royal Toes,” and the Queen sent it back with a note that said: “Her Majesty does not accept the book and it is therefore being returned herewith.”


Now hundreds of photographers follow the royals’ every move.

Photographers gathered outside the hospital after Kate Middleton gave birth to Princess Charlotte in 2015.
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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 and Wallis Simpson.
AP/Len Putnam

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.

Meghan Markle is divorced, but no one in the royal family took issue with their marriage.
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The Church of England has allowed marrying after divorce since 2002.

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

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip married at Westminster Abbey 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.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George’s Chapel.
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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.

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

Prince William and Kate Middleton with Prince Louis.
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Kate Middleton’s stylist Natasha Archer met her at the hospital to help her get camera-ready following the birth of Prince Louis in 2018. 

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

A bulletin announcing the birth of Prince Andrew is posted at Buckingham Palace in 1960.
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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.

Kensington Palace announces Prince Louis’ birth on Twitter in 2018.
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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.

Then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip with their baby daughter Princess Anne and son Prince Charles in 1950.
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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.

Princess Charlotte gives younger brother Prince Louis a kiss.
Kensington Palace

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 third and Prince Louis is is fourth. 

Royals used to put on Christmas pantomimes for the holidays.

Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in costume in 1941.
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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. They produced the play for the benefit of the Royal Household Concert Wool Fund.

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

Queen Elizabeth in 1977.

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.

In recent years, she sat in a horse-drawn carriage instead.

Queen Elizabeth at Trooping the Colour in 2018.
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Bowing or curtsying to royalty used to be necessary.

Charlie Chaplin bows to Princess Margaret in 1952.
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It was the proper greeting for members of the royal family, according to official royal protocol.

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

Kate Middleton arriving at a royal engagement with a handshake.
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According to the royal family’s official website, “There are no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting the Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms.”

Royal expert Victoria Arbiter told Insider in 2017 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.”

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