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Science And Nature

Exclusive: See rare photos of Queen Elizabeth II from National Geographic’s archives

Published September 8, 2022

10 min read

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor sat on a historical throne, her eyes downcast. Moments before, the 27-year-old woman have been clad in white. Now, she was Elizabeth II, Queen of the uk and its own Commonwealth realmsshoulders wrapped in golden cloth, hands clasping jeweled scepters and head heavy with a crown. Cries of God save the Queen! echoed throughout Westminster Abbey as silver trumpets blared.

At the June 1953 coronation, nobody may have guessed Queen Elizabeths reign would last a record-breaking 70 years. However the need for the elaborate ceremony had not been lost on veteran photographer James Jarch. Utilizing a Leica camera packed with Kodachrome film, he documented every moment of the age-old ritual, then rushed the undeveloped images to the National Geographic Societys Washington D.C. headquarters via special air courier.

The outcomes galvanized National Geographic editors, who dropped other coverage within their September 1953 issue to create room for the beautiful color photos, alongside classic Nat Geo assumes from the bunting that filled a still war-scarred London to the British-bred silkworms in charge of the queens sumptuous regalia.

Letters poured in from all over the world, begging for extra copies as keepsakes and gifts. It had been the best color story of an eternity, photo editor Kip Ross told Jarch.

And National Geographic was there to fully capture every step of her lifetime. Its world-class photographers documented the demure new queen, chronicled the state appearances of the self-possessed public figure, and offered rare glimpses of the private life Elizabeth guarded so carefully.

Fashions, borders, communication, public moresall experienced seismic shifts during Elizabeths years as queen. Here’s Elizabeth II as National Geographic saw her: gracious, determined, curious, confident, and long-lived.

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