She’s known for many things… namely being the longest-serving monarch in British history. Oh, and she loves horses and corgis. But Queen Elizabeth II is also a grandmother of eight, and is arguably one of the coolest grandmas around! Let’s take a look at some rare photos of the Queen with each of her grandchildren and see the special relationship she has with each of them. You won’t believe the nickname Prince William used to call her.
With Her Very First Grandchild
Queen Elizabeth acquired a brand new title in 1977: Grandma! On November 15 of that year, her daughter Princess Anne gave birth to Peter Phillips, the Queen’s first grandchild.
This sweet photo was taken just five days later at Balmoral in Scotland. Just like any grandmother, the Queen can’t seem to keep her hands off the little baby, and her big smile shows how thrilled she is about her new title.
She Helped Instill A Love Of Polo
All three royals in this photo — Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, and Prince Harry — look absolutely enthralled by the polo match they’re watching together. We love how she’s leaning down to see things from her grandsons’ eye level.
The photo was taken at The Royal Box At Guards Polo Club in Windsor in 1987. Both William and Harry played the sport, as teammates and as opponents, and both still enjoy it to this day.
Who Just Told A Joke?
Knowing the Queen’s sense of humor and seeing these smirking faces, you can’t help but wonder which of these passengers just made a joke as they head to church in Crathie, Aberdeenshire. Prince William is riding shotgun as his wife and the Queen sit in the back seat together.
Yes, you might have missed her at first glance, but that is the Duchess of Cambridge back there behind her husband, looking as tickled as the rest of them.
Princess Beatrice Learned About Horses From Her Granny
Although Princess Beatrice is the Queen’s fifth grandchild, she’s only the second granddaughter. As we’ll see, Queen Elizabeth has gotten all of her grandkids involved in her favorite activities over the years.
Here, she’s at the Royal Windsor Horse Show with a young Princess Beatrice, and appears to be pointing out something of interest to the child. To this day, the Queen owns many thoroughbred horses that are used in racing.
Visiting Master Peter Phillips At School
Many kids get nervous before receiving a school visit from a parent or grandparent. We have to wonder how Master Peter Phillips felt before his grandmother’s arrival at his school, the Port Regis School, in 1991.
In a recent interview, Phillips admitted that it felt “strange” to him that the person he knows as Granny is the Queen of England but said that he had a “jubilant” childhood. You can tell from this photo how much affection he has for his Granny.
She’s A Hands-On Grandmother
What a fun day for the Queen’s grandchildren! Taken in 1988, this photo captures a very special moment for the children as they explore a 1939 fire engine at Sandringham Estate along with their grandmother.
Pictured from left to right are Prince Charles, the Queen, Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, and Prince William. Prince Philip, Prince Harry, and Princess Diana were also there for the excitement but aren’t in the photo.
Leaning In To Hear What Prince George Is Saying
Queen Elizabeth is certainly a caring and involved grandmother! At Princess Charlotte’s christening in 2015, the Queen leaned over to hear what her great-grandson Prince George had to say.
The future King of England has a special name for the Queen; he calls her “Gan-Gan.” The nickname is actually a royal family tradition and has been used by generations when speaking of their great-grandmothers. Prince Charles called his great-grandmother the same thing.
Watching Zara’s Gymnastics Team Perform
Zara Phillips (now Tindall) is the daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and is the Queen’s oldest granddaughter. She’s now an equestrian and an Olympic athlete, and here we get to see a photo of her participating in sports at a young age.
The Queen visited Zara’s school in 1991 and made sure to catch a performance by her granddaughter’s gymnastics team. Zara’s teammates must have been thrilled to perform for the Queen!
Visiting With The Newlyweds
Taken just two months after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s fairytale wedding, this photo shows Queen Elizabeth watching a ceremonial Royal Airforce flypast with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2018.
The event was to honor the 100th birthday of the RAF and from the looks of it, the Queen was in a celebratory mood. Meghan looks pretty amused by whatever Queen Elizabeth is saying.
A Pat On The Head For Lady Louise Windsor
Lady Louise Windsor is the daughter of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Born in 2003, she’s the Queen’s youngest granddaughter.
As you might guess, the Queen has spent time with Lady Louise at the Royal Windsor Horse show as she has with all of her grandkids. On this occasion, she gave Lady Louise an affectionate little hat adjustment. That’s Louise’s mom, the Countess of Wessex, looking on.
Getting A Kiss From Prince William
Taken in 2004, this candid photo shows Prince William greeting his royal grandmother after a polo match at Windsor Great Park during Royal Ascot. Not many people would swoop in to kiss the Queen while covered in sweat, but it’s a different story for her grandkids.
This event has been a highlight of the racing and social calendar dating all the way back to Queen Anne in 1711 and is clearly a favorite activity for the Queen and her family.
That Time She And Princess Beatrice Wore Matching Outfits
During the first day of the Royal Ascot races in 2019, Princess Beatrice and her regal grandmother posed together in matching blue outfits right down to their hats. It doesn’t get much cuter than that!
Whether the coordinated look was planned or not, it made for a terrific photo opportunity and memory of a fun day spent with family. The Queen and her granddaughter both seem to be having a blast.
Looks Like It Was A Little Too Loud For James, Viscount Severn!
It doesn’t look like James, Viscount Severn, is enjoying the Trooping The Colour ceremony in this photo. Things do tend to get loud when you have aircraft involved, after all!
However, the Queen does not seem to notice or care that her youngest grandchild has his fingers in his ears as they stand on the balcony to watch the display! James is the younger brother of Lady Louise Windsor and the son of the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Prince William Had An Unusual Nickname For The Queen
When Prince William was a baby, he supposedly had a tough time pronouncing “Granny” or “Grandma,” so he came up with a new name for her. According to Daily Mail columnist Richard Kay, William called the Queen “Gary!”
“After a fall at Buckingham Palace, the prince cried out for ‘Gary, Gary,'” wrote Kay. “A guest who went to help asked who Gary was, assuming it must be a member of the royal household. ‘I’m Gary,’ responded Elizabeth. ‘He hasn’t learned to say Granny yet.’”
Humbly Accepting A Trophy From Granddaughter Beatrice
It’s certainly fun to get the occasional glimpse of the Queen “letting her hair down” a bit with her grandchildren, but duty calls and traditions must go on. In this photo, Princess Beatrice presents the Queen with a trophy after her horse, named Dartmouth, won during Day Five of Royal Ascot 2016.
Even though this is a ceremony, you can tell that both Queen Elizabeth and her beloved granddaughter are enjoying every moment! It’s not every day that most people get to give their granny a trophy, after all.
Reading To Zara
The Queen always seems to be teaching something to her grandchildren, especially things that are near and dear to her the way horses are. In 1987, Zara was still a little girl and the Queen was photographed reading the program for the Windsor Horse Show to her.
Today, Zara is not a working royal but it’s said that she’s one of the Queen’s favorite family members. It certainly looks like it in this vintage photo!
Admiring Her Grandson’s Science Fair Project
During the Queen’s 1991 visit to her grandson Peter Phillips’ school, she even stopped in to check out their science fair. Here’s Peter showing his granny the project he completed for the fair.
Growing up in such a prominent family might have influenced his work — he made a burglar alarm! The Queen appears to be quite impressed by his invention, regardless of whether it works or not. Isn’t that one of a grandma’s biggest jobs?
Taking A Peek At The Newest Member Of The Royal Family
Princess Charlotte was born in May of 2015 and christened a couple of months later at the Church of St Mary Magdalene at Sandringham Estate. Of course the Queen was there for the big day!
As Charlotte’s mom, the Duchess of Cambridge, pushed her stroller along, the Queen seemingly couldn’t help but take another peek at her newest great-grandchild. She certainly has a proud expression on her face as she smiles down at the baby.
Grandmother Is Cracking Everyone Up Again
It’s no surprise to see another photo of the Queen at a horse race. This one was taken at the Royal Ascot in 2018, and she’s with her granddaughter Princess Beatrice and Sarah, the Duchess of York.
We can’t see the Queen’s face here because the best part of the photo is the absolute laughter on Beatrice and Sarah’s faces! They both appear thrilled with whatever she has just said to them. Queen Elizabeth never fails to entertain, especially when she’s with her beloved family.
Laughing At Her Grandson’s Antics
Although this family photo was taken to commemorate Prince Harry’s christening in 1984, Prince William has clearly stolen the show. Just look how amused the Queen is by his antics!
While some of the distinguished guests are at least trying to keep a straight face, most of them have caved and are openly laughing at the young Prince, including his mom Diana (in blue) and the Queen Mother herself (in burgundy).
Be Careful, Young One!
This amazing photo really drives home the point that although yes, Elizabeth is the Queen of the United Kingdom, she is also a mother and grandmother (great-grandmother, even!) at heart.
At the Queen’s official 90th birthday celebration in 2016, young Prince George wanted a better look at the festive parade down below and leaned wayyy out over the balcony. You can see the look of concern on the Queen’s face but she doesn’t need to worry, as Prince William has the situation under control.
Zara Inherited Her Grandmother’s Love Of Horses
Looking back through all the photos of Zara Phillips and her grandmother over the years, it’s not difficult to see how she ended up being an equestrian herself! In this 1984 photo, the Queen is holding three-year-old Zara in her lap during a polo match in Windsor.
At the World Equestrian Games in 2014, Zara was a member of the British team that won team silver. Granny must have been so proud of her!
Hamming For The Camera With Granny
Princess Eugenie, the younger daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York, is the Queen’s sixth grandchild. Here, they’re pictured at one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite places.. you guessed it… Ascot Racecourse! The year was 2013.
Eugenie is clearly having a blast with her granny and is happily mugging for the photographers. The Queen was caught at an odd moment but there’s no doubt she was enjoying the company of her lovely granddaughter.
Hard To Keep A Straight Face With Grandmother Doing The Inspection!
This is one proud grandmother! A graduation inspection performed by the Queen is probably a pretty intimidating experience for most soldiers. If you’re Prince Harry, however, the Queen is just your granny and you might crack a grin as she walks past.
This is Harry’s graduation from Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006. He and the Queen are both known to be cut-ups at times, and it’s hard to deny that they’re both looking pretty mischievous during this serious moment!
Sharing A Laugh With Prince William
There are so many photos of the Queen laughing with her grandchildren that it’s clear they all truly enjoy each other’s company. In this one, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William appear to be sharing a pretty big laugh after the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in 2010.
We wonder whether anyone else on the balcony heard the joke that’s so amusing to the Queen and her beloved grandson.
Prince Harry Wasn’t Around Yet To Steal The Show From William’s Christening
As we saw earlier, the entire royal family was delighted with Prince William’s antics at his younger brother’s christening. But of course, Harry wasn’t present when William was christened so this official portrait seems pretty serious in comparison.
Both Queen Elizabeth and her mother, the Queen Mother, are beaming with pride at the occasion. Princess Diana is gazing lovingly at her little bundle of joy as Prince Charles and Prince Philip look on. What a treasured memory.
Celebrating Her Birthday With Family
The whole gang certainly showed up to celebrate the Trooping the Colour in 1985! Just look at this group shot of the Queen surrounded by her loving family as they watch the ceremony.
The children in the photo are grandchildren Prince William and Prince Harry (just a baby), along with some cousins. The Queen looks just as entertained by the show as the kids! How funny to see them all pointing together as they “ooh” and “aah.”
Surrounded By Teddy Bears
Although she’s not technically with her grandkids in this unexpected photo, it’s definitely something they’d be interested in hearing about later. This isn’t a sight you see every day, the Queen strolling through a park full of people in teddy bear costumes.
This delightful scene took place during the Golden Jubilee picnic in Bushy Park, London, in 2002. There’s no doubt that her younger grandchildren would have loved to join her for this event!
When Grandma Throws Shade
Just take a look at this photo of the Queen sporting sunglasses for a day at the races with her grandson and his wife. Grandmas just don’t get much cooler than this!
That’s Autumn Phillips, Peter’s then-wife, next to the Queen in the stunning pink ensemble. The photo was taken at Ascot Racecourse on June 23, 2018. Queen Elizabeth and her family truly enjoy horse racing and spend lots of time watching the sport together.
The Queen Checks For Rain The Same Way We All Do
Looking out for rain during 2007’s Trooping the Colour Parade, the Queen reaches her hand out to see if there are any drops coming down. She’s joined by her grandchildren Princess Eugenie and Prince William, as well as her husband Prince Philip.
Although Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is April 21st, the official birthday of the Sovereign is June 16. So she gets to celebrate twice every year! It’s just one of the many perks of being Queen.