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The Queen’s light-hearted spirit captured in pictures

She loved to laugh and joke with friends, family and members of the public.

(Phil Noble/PA)

Being the country’s reigning monarch for more than seven decades is no easy feat, but the Queen always managed to get the job done with a smile on her face.

In fact, royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith told People Magazine that the Queen was well-known for her good sense of humour and her laughter could often be heard around her Sandringham Estate. “You can hear her laugh throughout that big house,” Bedell Smith said. “She has a big laugh!”

Queen Elizabeth also showcased her good sense of humour while out and about on royal duties, whether sharing a quiet joke with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, or heartily laughing along with crowds of royal well-wishers. Given the Royal family is synonymous with tradition and formality, it was always a real treat to see the Queen giving us a glimpse of her fun-loving personality.

In the wake of her death at Balmoral on Thursday, we’ve rounded up some rare, candid photographs of her smiling and laughing during the course of her incredible reign…

1. Princess days

(PA Archive/PA)

Before she became Queen, here’s Elizabeth as a young princess, sharing a joke with the Duke of Edinburgh and Viscount and Lady Alexander at a state dinner in Ottawa, Canada.

2. Birthday celebrations

(PA Archive/PA)

The Queen lit up the room with her smile when Sir John Smyth, resident of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Associations, presented her with a 50th birthday gift.

3. Jockey japes

(PA Archive/PA)

The Queen was well-known for her love of horses. Here she is laughing alongside jockey Willie Carson in the paddock before he rode Sea Boat, a colt she bought, to third place in the Ladbroke Racing Handicap at Newmarket.

4. Royal laugh

(PA Archive/PA)

Her Majesty often wore a smile on her face during her public duties. Here she is with the crowds on a walkabout in St Helier, during a visit to Jersey.

5. Millennium moment

(Fiona Hanson/PA)

Prince Philip and the Queen were often photographed having a giggle with one another. Here, the couple share a joke at the midnight celebrations at the Millennium Dome on New Year’s Eve.

6. In high spirits

(Fiona Hanson/PA)

Queen Elizabeth was all smiles when she met Riccardo Muti in his offices at the La Scala Opera House, Milan, after he conducted La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra.

7. In good company

(PA Archive/PA)

The Queen burst into laughter while sitting amongst pupils doing an experiment at St. Clements Danes Church of England Primary School in London.

8. Life and soul of the party

(Tim Ockenden/PA)

Queen Elizabeth found something highly amusing at the Vodafone Derby from the Royal Box at Epsom Downs in Surrey.

9. Funny gifts

(John Giles/PA)

The Queen chuckled when she was offered a teddy bear from one of the young schoolchildren who greeted her as she arrived at Seaham, Sunderland, where she enjoyed a walkabout on the second day of her Golden Jubilee tour.

10. Whatever the weather

(Fiona Hanson/PA)

The Queen never let the weather get her down. Here she is laughing with the Archbishop of Canterbury at his rather soggy Royal Garden Party in the grounds of Lambeth Palace.

11. Flower delivery

(PA Archive/PA)

The Queen smiled and laughed when she received a bouquet of flowers from a naval diver, playing the role of a VIP who had been ‘rescued’ and brought back to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, during a tri-service display at Portsmouth.

12. With William

(Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Queen Elizabeth and a youthful Duke of Cambridge clearly had a similar sense of humour. Here the pair share a joke on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during a flypast for the Trooping of the Colour.

13. Royal entertainer

(Phil Noble/PA)

We’d love to know what the Queen was joking about here, when she made the Duchess of Cambridge burst into laughter while they watched part of a children’s sports event during a visit to Vernon Park in Nottingham.

14. Still laughing in her 90s

(Danny Lawson/PA)

In 2018, the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex laughed happily together at a joke Prince Harry made during a speech at the opening of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in Widnes.

15. Horsing around

(Steve Parsons/PA)

And she beamed with delight as she arrived at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2022. There had been speculation that the 96-year-old Queen would miss the show, held three months after she reached her Platinum Jubilee – but for the lifelong horse lover, this was an annual highlight.


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