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The four royal babies who take centre stage in a never before seen photo

A never before seen photo of four royal babies born within weeks of one another is one of the star attractions in a brand new exhibition about to open in London.

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography starts at The King’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace on May 17th and contains over 150 items from the Royal Collection, telling the story of royalty over a century.

A bumper year for royal babies

The early part of 1964 had proved a bumper time for royal arrivals and the picture taking centre stage in the exhibition captures the moment.

The four babies are shown in the arms of their mothers – Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

The portrait was taken as a special thank you for Sir John Peel , the obstetrician who had overseen the safe delivery of all four babies.

A new prince

First of them was Princess Alexandra’s first child. James Robert Bruce Ogilvy was born on February 29th 1964 at Thatched House Lodge in Richmond Park.

Next to arrive was Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest child. Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis was born on March 10th 1964 at Buckingham Palace as third in line to the throne.

Photo by Lord Snowdon/ Royal Collection Trust

The first of the two girls to be born was the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Lady Helen Marina Lucy arrived on April 28th 1964 at Coppins in Buckinghamshire.

The youngest of the four royal babies in the photo is the daughter of Princess Margaret. Lady Sarah Frances Elizabeth was born on May 1st 1964 at Kensington Palace.

And the photographer who captured this historic image was Lady Sarah’s proud father, Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon.

‘Darling Lilibet’

Alongside the photo in the exhibition is a handwritten letter from Princess Margaret to her sister, Elizabeth II, addressed to ‘Darling Lilibet’ and asking for her to sign a copy of the photo ‘as a souvenir of an extraordinary two months of delivery’.

Other star photos in the exhibition include the earliest surviving photographic print of a member of the Royal Family in colour. It features Alice, Duchess of Gloucester on her wedding day and it was taken by Madame Yeovonde.

The Royal Family had become a champion of female photographers during the 1920s and 1930s and work by Dorothy Wilding is also included in the exhibition.

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography runs at The King’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace from May 17th 2024 until October 6th 2024. More information can be found on the website along with ticket booking details.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.