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#MonarchsAt20 – how our queens and kings used to look

It’s all the rage at this stage of lockdown. People are posting photos of themselves at the age of twenty across social media and reflecting on how things used to be. Many of the throwbacks appear to involve bad perms and rather lurid clothes while some show that we all seemed to look older in the 70s no matter what age we actually were. In the spirit of fun, and with a royal version of the #MeAt20 hashtag, here’s Royal Central’s run down of how some of Europe’s current monarchs looked in the year they marked their two decades.

Elizabeth II

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‘You hum it, I’ll pick up the tune….” On first glance, this could be a poster for a rather sophisticated music hall turn but look closer and you’ll find the then Princess Elizabeth at the piano. The woman who would become the longest reigning monarch in British history was still heir to the throne when she turned 20 on April 21st 1946. She posed for this photo a few months later.

King Harald V of Norway

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You’d look that dubious if you’d just found out they don’t have the trousers in your size. Poor Prince Harald. As he turned 20, on February 21st 1957, he was taking on military training which is enough of a life change without having to pose for photos in what is clearly someone else’s uniform. Later that year, Haralnd became heir to the throne of Norway.

Margrethe II of Denmark

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No prizes for knowing when Margrethe’s birthday is as we’ve just spent days celebrating it. Her 20th fell on April 16th 1960 and that year she accompanied her parents, King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid, to Greenland on a trip that was hopefully a lot more fun than the three of them are making it look in this photo.

King Carl XVI Gustaf

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It’s not clear whether it’s the camera or the rather overpacked vase of flowers that’s putting Carl Gustaf of Sweden on his guard in this image but he’s not happy about something. The now King of Sweden was still heir to the throne when he posed for this photo in 1966. He turned 20 on April 30th that year.

Prince Albert II of Monaco

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The glasses are a giveaway that this is a 70s celebration. Prince Albert of Monaco marked his 20th birthday on March 14th 1978 – this photo was taken in New York that year.

King Philippe of the Belgians

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Yes, there are better photos of King Philippe from the year he turned twenty but how could we resist this one? The then prince was snapped at a military parade in 1980 – he marked his two decades on April 15th that year.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands

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Dodgy choice in sportswear is all part and parcel of being twenty as the Dutch king can attest. Still Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, he was snapped ski-ing with his parents and brothers in 1987 – he turned 20 on April 27th that year.

King Felipe VI of Spain

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The youngest king in Europe turned 20 on January 30th 1988. A few months later, the then Prince Felipe helped his parents welcome Queen Elizabeth II to Madrid for a State Visit. Which kind of brings us back to where we started….

About author

Lydia Starbuck is 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, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. 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.