June 23, 2021

30 Times Queen Elizabeth II Was the Ultimate Grandma

6 min read

queen elizabeth prince william prince harry 1987

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With four children, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, Queen Elizabeth II knows a thing or two about being a grandmother. The monarch first stepped into the role in 1977 with the birth of Peter Phillips, and she just welcomed great-grandson Prince Louis into the family four months ago. While she’s Her Royal Highness to the rest of the world, here’s why she’s also the best “Gan-Gan” behind closed palace doors.

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When she couldn’t resist tickling her grandson.

The best part of this picture from Peter Phillips’s 1977 christening is Princess Anne’s face, which clearly says “Mom, cool it.” Obviously the Queen couldn’t help it though; he was her first grandchild!

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This time she had Zara sit on her lap.

Not just anyone gets to sit with the Queen — that’s royal protocol 101. Her second grandchild Zara Phillips clearly got a free pass for this 1984 outing to watch polo at Windsor.

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And held her hand to prevent any mishaps.

Who could resist holding hands a little cutie pie like that?! Zara Tindall now has a toddler of her own: 4-year-old Mia Grace.

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All the times she had everyone over for Christmas.

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When she passed down her favorite hobby.

The Queen invited Peter and Zara Phillips to attend the 1985 Windsor Horse Show with her and something clearly stuck. Zara would go on to win a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in equestrian eventing.

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And never passed up a teaching moment.

You can just hear her telling Prince Harry and Prince William,”Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” (That was actually Mufasa to Simba, but still.)

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When she reads to her grandkids.

Or in this case, a Windsor Horse show program. Zara seems really into it of course.

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And takes them on special outings.

Prince William, Prince Harry, and Peter and Zara Phillips obviously got a kick out of this antique fire truck at a Sandringham museum during a 1988 visit.

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And even let them bring their toys.

Zara Phillips is oh-so-casually carrying a teddy bear in her muff. Stuffed animals aren’t exactly part of the royal dress code, but the Queen is apparently a-okay with it.

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All the times she took them on cool trips.

Case in point: This 1988 cruise of the Western Isles on board the royal yacht Britannia. The since-retired vessel now operates as a tourist attraction in Scotland.

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And made them go to church with her.

Prince William matched the Queen at Easter in 1989. Brightly colored coats are clearly a wardrobe staple in this family.

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When she visited the Phillips children at school.

The Queen spent a day at Port Regis School in 1991 checking up on Zara and Peter Phillips. They clearly had the best show-and-tell moment.

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And oohed over a science project.

Peter made this burglar alarm for a class project and like any good grandma, the Queen seems to be impressed regardless of whether it works or not.

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And watched a gymnastics performance.

There’s a 100% chance that the Queen later told Zara that she was the best one, because grandmothers are only a litttllle bit biased.

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This time she made sure Princess Beatrice could see.

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When she made Prince William and Prince Harry giggle.

She might rule the Commonwealth, but her grandsons sometimes forget that she’s the longest serving head of state in the world. “I still think of her as just my grandmother, really,” Prince William told Katie Couric in 2012. “I’m probably a bit of a cheeky grandson, like my brother as well. We both take the mickey a bit too much.” In case you’re wondering, “take the mickey” is British slang for teasing someone.

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When she’s the perfect role model.

“I find my grandmother inspiring every day because her overwhelming sense of duty is linked with an overwhelming curiosity,” Princess Beatrice told Hello! last year. “She goes out into the community with a genuine curiosity as to how she can be a force for good in the world.”

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When she made Prince Harry crack up at a very serious moment.

The Queen couldn’t help but smile at Prince Harry while inspecting soldiers at the Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006. His face turned as red as his hair!

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And Prince William too.

Even the future king had a hard time keeping a straight face at another Sovereign’s Parade later that year.

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Every time she makes everyone take a family picture.

She might not stick them up on her fridge, but the Queen definitely likes to place family portraits all over the palace. This snap from her diamond wedding anniversary in 2007 belongs in a frame.

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When she insists on getting a hello kiss.

You’re never too old for a kiss from grandma. (And as long as she doesn’t get any lipstick on you, that’s okay.)

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This time she fussed with Lady Louise’s hat.

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When she picks up presents for her grandkids everywhere.

Kate Middleton confirmed that the Queen likes to spoil her descendents in the documentary Our Queen at 90. “She always leaves a little gift or something in [Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s] room when we go and stay,” she said. “And that just shows her love for her family.”

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And wants lots of life updates.

She visited Prince William at his job as a helicopter pilot in 2016. (She was also opening the East Anglian Air Ambulance base — ever the multitasker.)

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The fact that she has a special cake recipe.

It’s chocolate biscuit cake, according to her former personal chef Darren McGrady, and Prince William loves it so much he even requested the flavor for the groom’s cake at his wedding. “The reason he chose it is that he used to go to tea with the Queen and he got a taste for it,” McGrady told TODAY. “That is when he started liking it.”

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And loves her great-grandkids oh-so-much.

The Duchess of Cambridge revealed that Prince George calls the Queen “Gan-Gan.” Fair enough; “great-granny” seems a little tough for a toddler to say.

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This moment right here.

It’s a sweet snapshot of love between the generations … and possibly Prince George asking if there’s any snacks in her purse.

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When she worried about her little daredevil.

Watch out, Prince George! That Buckingham Palace balcony is up higher than you think.

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All the times she passed down family heirlooms.

Getting married to one of the Queen’s grandkids? No problem. The Queen has lent tiaras to every royal bride in need, including Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

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When she (probably) told a cheeky joke.

Granddaughter-in-law Meghan Markle truly looked like a part of the fam on her first solo outing with the Queen in June. This icebreaker moment definitely had something to do with it.

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