Virtually every royal in history has been in some way memorialized through art. Once, great painters of the day would create portraits of kings and queens. But then photography was invented and everything changed. Suddenly, royals could be seen as they actually were. And their subjects could watch them grow up, picture by picture, which has continued right into the 21st century. These photos allow us to track how the British royal family has developed over the past 158 years. As you can imagine, a lot has changed.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1860
Victoria and Albert were arguably the first modern royal love story. Their relationship wasn’t a business arrangement, as marriages of that era often were – they truly adored each other. It even shines through in the carefully posed black-and-white photographs that they would appear in together. Sadly, just one year after this photo was taken Albert died at the age of 42, and Victoria would grieve for many years afterwards.
Wedding of Prince Albert Edward of Wales and Alexandra of Denmark, 1863
Victoria’s son Prince Albert Edward, later to take the throne as King Edward VII, was not as devoted to marriage as his mother had been. In 1863 he married Alexandra of Denmark, but as the years passed he cheated on her with, some historians have claimed, at least 55 other women. One of his alleged mistresses was Alice Keppel, whose great-granddaughter Camilla Parker Bowles went on to be the mistress – and later wife – of Prince Charles. These things work in mysterious ways!