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A look back at the Royal Family's most iconic Buckingham Palace balcony pictures over the years

 (L-R) Princess Diana and Prince Charles' wedding kiss, The Queen waving on the balcony, Kate Middleton and Prince Louis.
(L-R) Princess Diana and Prince Charles' wedding kiss, The Queen waving on the balcony, Kate Middleton and Prince Louis.

As with many royal practices, the significance of the Buckingham Palace balcony appearances traces back to Queen Victoria. 

During the opening celebrations of the Great Exhibition in 1851, she stepped out onto the balcony as a deliberate way to greet her subjects. Seven years later, she brought out the rest of her family to greet the crowds who had gathered to witness the wedding of her daughter.

Thus, a tradition was born - one which is a highlight for fans of the Royal Family and has produced some memorable moments over the years...

A look back at the Royal Family's best balcony pictures

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding kiss
Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding kiss

Royal fever took hold of the world in 2011 when one of the first major royal weddings took place in central London (meaning a Buckingham Palace appearance) since Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson in 1986.

Over 5000 street parties were held across the country, and about a million people came to London to line the routes taken by the newlyweds.

With such a huge crowd watching, the balcony appearance was one of the biggest and most celebrated in modern history.

The shot that changed the course of history

Members of the Royal Family at the Coronation of King George VI
Members of the Royal Family at the Coronation of King George VI

In 1937, the Coronation of King George VI was held - and it was truly a pivotal time in British history.

George, being the younger brother of King George V - or the Spare, to borrow from another Prince's vernacular - wasn't expected to be King. But after the Duke of Windsor's shock abdication to be with his American wife, Wallis Simpson, it meant that George became king, setting in motion the later reign of Elizabeth II.

Elizabeth, pictured on the balcony with her father, the newly crowned king, would go on to become the longest-reigning British monarch in history.

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation

Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation, 1953
Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation, 1953

The world paid attention to the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II marked her epic coronation.

The young Queen had a shock ascension to the throne, after her father died at the relatively young age of 56.

The scale of Elizabeth's Coronation was truly epic - there were six separate balcony appearances to delight the throngs of crowds.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding

Prince Charles and Princess Diana kissing on their wedding day
Prince Charles and Princess Diana kissing on their wedding day

The romance of Princess Diana and the now King Charles was, at the time, the closest many people had to a real-life fairy tale.

Alas, we all know how it turned out in the end, but that doesn't take away from the magic of their 1981 wedding balcony appearance.

Diana, in her elaborate, ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, looked every inch the princess as she kissed her new husband in front of the world on the balcony of the historic palace.

This kiss marked the first time a royal couple kissed publicly on the balcony, ushering in a tradition beloved by royal fans.

A very happy wave from Queen Elizabeth

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

For the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two in 2005, the Royal Family came out in force to pay their respects.

The Queen was the first female royal to serve in the army during active service - working with the Auxiliary Territorial Service - which could explain why she was so delighted to be marking such a historic moment.

In a classic, colourful ensemble, Her Majesty gave crowds a much more enthusiastic greeting than her signature, subdued wave.

Celebrating the end of WWII

The Royal Family with Winston Churchill on VE Day, 1945
The Royal Family with Winston Churchill on VE Day, 1945

On May 8, 1945, history was made in many ways. Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill joined King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret on the balcony to take the salute of the crowds when victory in Europe was declared.

He's one of the very few politicians to have ever had the honour, with the exception of Neville Chamberlain who appeared on the balcony in 1938 after signing the ill-fated Munich Agreement.

One of the Queen's first ever balcony appearances

Queen Mary and King George V with their granddaughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II in 1935
Queen Mary and King George V with their granddaughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II in 1935

For 70 years of her historic reign, the late Queen Elizabeth appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace countless times. Her first actual appearance was when she was just one year old in 1927.

However, one of the earliest recorded photos of the Queen-to-be appearing on the balcony was in 1935, when she joined her grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, in celebrating their Silver Jubilee.

A family moment at the Queen's Coronation

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Philip at the Queen's Coronation
Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Philip at the Queen's Coronation

For the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, the balcony was packed with more than 30 friends and family.

But one of the most adorable photos taken of the historic day was capturing a sweet family moment. With Elizabeth and Prince Philip smiling at one another, their two young children - Prince Charles and a curly-haired, blonde Princess Anne - stand between them, trying to take in the magnitude of what is going on around them.

The Queen being a working mum

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and a baby Prince Edward
Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and a baby Prince Edward

When it came to Trooping the Colour in 1964, the Queen went about as if it was business like usual, despite the fact that she'd not long had a child.

For the balcony appearance, the Queen - kitted out in military attire - juggled mum and sovereign duties as she held her youngest son, Prince Edward, who was only 12 weeks old at the time.

The late Queen also took part in a procession on horseback before the balcony appearance, proving she really wasted no time getting back in the saddle (quite literally).

Charles gets a telling off

The Queen and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1951
The Queen and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1951

While we can never really know what was going on in this picture from 1951, one of the most memorable balcony photos was captured, showing what appeared to be a young Prince Charles getting a stern telling-off.

Charles, who was three years old at the time, looked most unimpressed with whatever was going on. And considering the thousands of people who come out to witness the annual parade honouring the monarch's official birthday, we can't blame a toddler for feeling overwhelmed.

However, the late Queen swapped being monarch for mum temporarily as she appears to be giving her eldest son a little telling off.

Princess Margaret's wedding

Princess Margaret and Tony Armstrong-Jones on their wedding day
Princess Margaret and Tony Armstrong-Jones on their wedding day

The Queen's only sister, the glamorous and larger-than-life Princess Margaret, got married (the first of two) on May 6, 1960, to Anthony Armstrong-Jones.

Looking radiant in the Poltimore tiara and her wedding dress, which included a fitted, tailored bodice and voluminous skirt using 30 metres of fabric, Margaret was met with thousands of well-wishers.

However, that balcony appearance made history for other reasons. It was the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television, with an estimated 300 million viewers watching.

Princess Anne's wedding to Captain Mark Phillips

The Royal Family at Buckingham Palace for Princess Anne's wedding
The Royal Family at Buckingham Palace for Princess Anne's wedding

For Princess Anne's wedding to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973, she kept the affair relatively low-key and practical - in line with her no-nonsense nature.

The balcony appearance was smaller and more intimate, with just close family members and the wedding party included. A young Prince Edward served as page boy and Anne’s cousin, Sarah Armstrong-Jones (now Lady Sarah Chatto) was the only bridesmaid.

Prince William's first balcony appearance

Prince William with Princess Diana on the Buckingham Palace balcony in 1984
Prince William with Princess Diana on the Buckingham Palace balcony in 1984

The future King was just days away from celebrating his 2nd birthday when he made his Buckingham Palace debut alongside the now King Charles, Princess Diana, and the rest of the royal family.

Kitted out in a little blue romper, young William delighted royal fans at his debut, bouncing away in his parents' arms for part of the ceremony and later playing with cousins Peter and Zara Phillips.

The Queen Mother turns 100

Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II

On August 4, 2000, the United Kingdom celebrated the 100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

On the day, over 40,000 well-wishers and royal fans gathered in the Mall in London to watch the Queen Mother and her two daughters, Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II, step out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

They were soon joined by the rest of the royal family for the momentous occasion.

Kate Middleton's first Trooping the Colour

Kate Middleton, Prince William and Duchess Sophie in 2011
Kate Middleton, Prince William and Duchess Sophie in 2011

2011 was a big year for Kate Middleton, to put it mildly. In April of that year, the now Princess of Wales made her first-ever appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as she married Prince William. A few months later, she solidified her spot in the Royal Family by attending her first-ever Trooping the Colour.

For the occasion, Kate wore what would become one of her go-to designers, Alexander McQueen. She paired the white Cotton and Wool Blend Pique coat with a hat by Sylvia Fletcher for Lock & Co.

Meghan Markle's balcony debut

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with members of the Royal Family in 2018
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with members of the Royal Family in 2018

The newly-appointed Duchess of Sussex made her Trooping the Colour debut in 2018, just a few weeks after her wedding in May that year.

Meghan Markle looked radiant for the special debut, opting for a light pink dress by Carolina Herrera with a Philip Treacy hat.

While on the balcony, Meghan excitedly chatted with various members of the Royal Family, including Harry's cousin, Peter Phillips and her new sister-in-law, Kate Middleton.

Princess Anne gives Harry a boost

Princess Anne with Prince Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1986
Princess Anne with Prince Harry on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1986

One of the best balcony moments from 1986's Trooping the Colour parade saw Princess Anne step up to her favourite Aunt duties.

Dressed in a sunny yellow outfit, the Princess Royal gave Princess Diana's arms a rest as she took over Prince Harry duties, lifting the young royal up to allow him to see over the balcony at the thousands of people who came out to see.

It was all about the hats in 2010

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie with the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie with the Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace

In 2010, the late Queen Elizabeth was flanked by her granddaughters, Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.

All three of the royals opted for some rather eye-catching hats in a range of bold colours.

Eugenie went for a red, ribbon-style headpiece, while Beatrice went for what looked like blue feathers. The Queen's hat was more traditional and matched her pastel, lilac ensemble.

Cousins steal the show in 2018

Prince William, Kate Middleton with Prince George and Savannah Phillips
Prince William, Kate Middleton with Prince George and Savannah Phillips

In 2018, the balcony appearance was dominated by the cheeky antics of the younger generation.

Prince George was photographed playing around with Savannah Phillips, the eldest daughter of Peter Phillips. In hilarious scenes, Savannah even tried to shush the young Prince, which prompted a very fatherly death stare from Prince William.

Luckily, they all appeared to crack up later, proving that the family have plenty of fun on the balcony.

'The Fab Four' in 2018

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton

For the Centenary of the Royal Air Force in 2018, royal fans got a photo of Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle together for the first time.

While the relationship between the brothers famously soured following Harry and Meghan's decision to quit life as working royals in 2020, fans initially dubbed the brothers and their wives as the Fab Four and this photo was meant to herald in a new era.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew have fun with the crowd

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on their wedding day
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson on their wedding day

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was known for her playfulness and sense of humour, and she didn't let something as daunting as her own royal wedding get in the way of that in 1986.

After her wedding to Prince Andrew, the pair put on an amusing display on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, egging the crowd to cheer louder as they prepared for the much-anticipated kiss.

The Diamond Jubilee

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2012
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2012

Marking her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 - 60 years on the throne - the balcony shot was iconic for a different reason.

In contrast to the crowded balcony fans had got used to in the past, the numbers were scaled back in what many interpreted as a message of the Palace's vision for the future.

With Prince Philip in hospital at the time, only the direct heirs stood beside the late Queen, including the now King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla, Prince William and Kate Middleton and Prince Harry.

George causes a panic in 2016

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2016
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2016

Trooping the Colour in 2016 gave royal fans everything they've come to want from the Buckingham Palace balcony appearances.

The late Queen stood out in a typically vibrant ensemble, sporting lime green. Kate Middleton's chic outfit included another classic Alexander McQueen coat dress and Philip Treacy hat.

However, the real highlight of this balcony appearance was the panic Prince George caused, seemingly getting too close to the edge and having everyone reaching out to grab him. Even little Princess Charlotte seems to be gasping...

Prince Harry steals the show in 1988

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1988
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1988

Prince Harry has become something of a rebel royal in recent years, what with his shocking memoir, Spare, and his decision to quit life as a working royal.

But, as it turns out, he's always been a bit of a troublemaker.

In an adorable balcony appearance in 1988, the young royal surprised everyone (not least his mum, Princess Diana, who was holding him at the time) when he pulled the naughty face, immortalised forever on film.

Princess Diana's rule-breaking debut at Trooping the Colour

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1981
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1981

Princess Diana joined the royals for her first Trooping the Colour parade in June 1981, when she was still Lady Diana Spencer.

This is significant because, before that, it was widely believed that the royals followed something of a 'no ring, no bring' policy. Meaning no one could attend these important events until they were officially married.

Prince Louis steals the show in 2022

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2023
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2023

Trooping the Colour in 2022 gave royal fans one of the most hilarious balcony appearances ever, as the rambunctious Prince Louis couldn't control his reactions to the flyover.

Stood beside the late Queen - his great-grandmother - Louis had fans in stitches with his face-pulling antics.

Louis was a great distraction for what could've been an awkward balcony year. Buckingham Palace announced in May 2022 that "after careful consideration, the Queen has decided this year's traditional Trooping the Colour balcony appearance... will be limited to Her Majesty and those members of the royal family who are currently undertaking official public duties on behalf of the Queen."

So, plenty of royals were left off the invite list this year.

The Golden Jubilee

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2002
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2002

You couldn't miss Queen Elizabeth for her epic Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, as the always-effervescent monarch wore a stunning shade of deep orange.

She managed to stand out on the balcony even after it had undergone its remarkable makeover - one of the first times ever there wasn't the usual velvet red draping.

Instead, a special covering paying homage to the queen, including a version of her royal cypher and symbols of the Commonwealth countries was introduced - a rare treat for fans of the royals.

Raining poppies in 2005

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2005
Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 2005

An iconic moment from the balcony of Buckingham Palace saw the royals engulfed in a downpour of poignant poppies.

The Poppy flower is used to represent all those who lost their lives on active service, from the beginning of the First World War right up to present day, and the stunning display of poppies cascading from the sky across the balcony was done in support of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two.

Poppies were dropped from the Lancaster Bomber of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight as part of the flypast.

Camilla's first Trooping the Colour

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour, 2005
The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour, 2005

A few months after the now King Charles finally married Camilla in 2005 - some 30 years after they first met and the sometimes-complex road they had to take to get their happily-ever-after - another significant moment happened for Camilla.

She was officially embraced by the late Queen and the royals as she attended her first-ever Trooping the Colour.

Prince Louis loving the Platinum Jubilee

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis

Prince Louis was, once again, full of excitement and hilarity during the 2023 Platinum Jubilee balcony appearance.

Stood with his family - including older siblings Prince George and Princess Charlotte - Louis seemed to be interacting with the crowds of people and the military parades taking place.

Queen Elizabeth II's last balcony appearance

The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Platinum Jubilee 2022
The Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Platinum Jubilee 2022

2022 proved to be a defining year in royal history. Not only did Britain see its first-ever Platinum Jubilee - celebrating 70 years of the monarch's reign - it would also be the year Queen Elizabeth died.

A few months after the celebrations in the summer, Her Majesty died in Balmoral on September 8, 2022.

Fortunately, despite having had ailing health in the months leading up to the big celebrations, the late Queen proved fit enough to make it for what would become her last-ever balcony appearance.

And she went out in style, serving up another technicolour outfit, wearing a bold, bright green.

The first balcony picture of a new era

King Charles and Queen Camilla on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Coronation
King Charles and Queen Camilla on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Coronation

On May 6, 2023, the balcony of Buckingham Palace was witness to a new chapter in both royal and British history. The newly crowned King Charles took to the balcony for the first time as sovereign, after his mother's passing in September 2022.

The country - and billions around the world - tuned in for the first Coronation in seven decades. Charles took to the balcony wearing the Imperial State Crown, a central part of the Crown Jewels and a diadem thought to be worth anywhere between £3 and £5 billion.

Waving to crowds of thousands, and flanked by his grandson, Prince George, who will one day be in the same position, history was made.