The Australian Women’s Weekly Royal Covers: A retrospective look back through the decades

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Even if you are not an avid royal watcher, you’ll likely have a swag of memories of the royal family through the years.

The Weekly’s Miranda Herron recalls her grandfather talking of the time he saw the Prince of Wales waving from the back of a train during his 1920 tour of thanks for Australia’s support of Britain during World War I.

Skip forward to 1982 and the wedding of “Charles and Di”. Watching (along with 750 million other people) the TV event with British relatives, one of whom had been a Grenadier Guard, we stood solemnly for the National Anthem, God Save The Queen.

In 1997, Miranda remembers how she was making spag bol in a London flat when she heard Princess Diana had been killed. And on the day of her funeral, walking the desolate streets of a city where every shop was closed for a half-day as a tribute to the ‘People’s Princess’.

In The Australian Women’s Weekly‘s 85th Anniversary Souvenir Edition, which is out now, we take a look at some of the momentous, tragic, joyous, hilarious and rarely seen moments of The Weekly‘s coverage of the royal family.

From the first Weekly issue in June 1933, which featured a young Princess Elizabeth and her grandmother Queen Mary, we hope you enjoy the journey through the decades – plus a sneak peak into the future – and rekindle some of your own royal memories.

The Weekly’s stunning royal souvenir issue is out now!


The latter half of the decade proved a tumultuous time – the death of King George V in 1936 was followed by a constitutional crisis when his son and heir, Edward VIII, abdicated after less than one year on the throne. George VI, Princess Elizabeth’s father, in turn succeeded him, then, three years later, Britain was again at war.

January 1934.

January 1936.

October 1937.

May 1937.


The early part of the decade was marred by war, but with peace came the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

That magical event and the birth of their first son, Prince Charles, the following year revived the nation’s spirits.

August 1940: Elizabeth’s mother celebrates her 40th birthday.

May 1947: Elizabeth in a reflective mode, as she comes of age.

November 1947: Before the royal wedding.

November 1947: The Weekly‘s London correspondent Anne Matheson reported that war-torn “London forgets its troubles and wishes the couple joy and happiness.”

January 1948: “This week’s cover is a fine color [sic] study of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.”

January 1949: A portrait of Elizabeth and Philip was completed just before Charles’ birth, painted by Margaret Lindsay Williams.

February 1949: Prince Charles was born in November 1948. Here, Elizabeth poses with the newest royal heir at his christening.

June 1949: The “latest portrait” of Elizabeth and a cheekily grinning Charles, held by a radiant 23-year-old Elizabeth.


The 1950s signalled generational change – soon after the 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth became Queen, Prime Minister Winston Churchill resigned.

Despite having two small children, the new monarch spent months touring the Commonwealth, at a time when many countries were striving towards independence.

June 1953: Celebrating The Weekly‘s 20th anniversary, staff artist Bonar Dunlop painted this portrait of the Queen at her coronation.

February 1954: Bonar Dunlop also painted this “imaginary scene” on Sydney Harbour on the arrival for the SS Gothic, carrying the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

May 1955: This portrait of the Queen in Order of the Garter robes is the work of Italian painter Pietro Annigoni – commissioned by the Fishmongers’ Company.

June 1958: The Weekly cover asks, “Does the Queen work too hard?” We reported that, determined to protect her health, Cabinet may act to reduce her duties.


The Swinging Sixties saw Britain transformed from genteel black and white to technicolor.

The royal family maintained traditions – the Queen was still touring the Commonwealth – but it was also showing a more relaxed side of the monarchy at home.

Two more additions to the royal family arrived, with Prince Andrew on February 19, 1960, and Prince Edward on March 10, 1964.

April 1960: “Queen Elizabeth proudly holds her second son, Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward.”

February 1961: Queen Elizabeth, “smiling radiantly” at the start of the royal tour of India and Pakistan, wearing a “soft blue flower hat”.

March 1963: “The Yarra bank was aglow with flowers” when Elizabeth and Philip alighted from a barge in Melbourne, on their way to the races at Flemington.

August 1964: Elizabeth with her fourth child, Prince Edward, at four months. He was third in line to the throne, after Prince Charles and Prince Andrew.

December 1968: Photographer Reginald Davis was given exclusive access to take a series of candid, modern family photos at Windsor Castle.

June 1969: Prince Charles on Mount Snowdon in Wales, 1969.

July 1969: “After the solemnity of the investiture ceremony, Prince Charles relaxes for a moment to share a smile with his parents, the Queen and Prince Philip.”

Princess Margaret special

October 1959: “Margaret – the lovelorn Princess?” The Weekly asked. It later emerged she was secretly engaged to Armstrong-Jones.

May 1960: The Royal Wedding Souvenir Album featured informal photos of Armstrong-Jones and Margaret.

May 1960: “Beautiful bride Princess Margaret – her husband, Mr Anthony Armstrong, at her side – waves as the couple travel in a glass coach to Buckingham Palace.”

December 1961: Princess Margaret with her son, David, Viscount Linley, photographed by her husband the Earl of Snowdon when the baby was just 18 days old.

August 1964: Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, photographed by her father Lord Snowdon at 10-and-a-half weeks, was “all blue eyes and lace” at her christening.

September 1969: Margaret wears the latest psychedelic fashions in a series of romantic images taken by her photographer husband.

March 1976: Margaret’s romance with a man 17 years her junior causes a royal furore. The Queen was not amused, forbidding anyone to entertain them together.


This was a decade of personal milestones for the Queen, celebrating 25 years on the throne and a 30-year wedding anniversary with the Duke of Edinburgh.

There was also the small matter of her oldest son, the future king, and one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, and the need for him to find a wife…

March 1970: The Queen and Princess Anne arrive in New Zealand.

October 1975: Prince Charles says he is”afraid of marriage.”

March 1977: Philip, “Occasionally controversial, always forthright”.

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After a brief courtship, Prince Charles, 32, proposed to a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.

Their lavish wedding later that year and the births of sons Prince William and Prince Harry were high notes, but, by the end of the ’80s, very public stress fractures began to appear in the marriage.

October 1980: Diana was horrified by this revealing picture, taken with children from the nursery school where she worked.

March 1981: The announcement of the couple’s engagement was preceded by months of breathless speculation.

August 1981: The Weekly‘s Royal Wedding Souvenir issue featured a 48-page memento liftout and a wedding poster.

July 1982: The Weekly reported that there was “a carnival atmosphere outside St Mary’s Hospital” for the birth of William.


In a speech in November 1992, the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne, the Queen described the year as an annus horribilis.

It was marked by divorce, affairs and the inferno at Windsor Castle. But little did she know that even worse was to come with the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997.

April 1992: Lady Colin Campbell’s revealing Diana In Private was serialised.

September 1996: Special Royal Souvenir: “Diana free at last.”

October 1997: The Weekly‘s tribute to the “People’s Princess”.

July 1999: “A wink and a smile from Edward made Sophie relax.”


Early in the decade, there were two departures of senior members of the royal family.

But later there were additions, too, as younger royals tied the knot.

And an Australian met her own handsome prince…

April 2014: Prince William and Catherine arrived in Sydney with Prince George for a 10-day tour, the family’s first official tour of Australia. Their itinerary took them to Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Uluru and Adelaide.

2013: Crown Princess Mary, photographed with her dog, Ziggy, for The Weekly‘s 80th birthday issue .

July 2011: The daughter of Princess Anne, Zara Phillips met Mike Tindall when he was playing in the Rugby World Cup in Australia in 2003. They were introduced to each other in a bar in Sydney by Zara’s cousin, Prince Harry. The couple married on July 30, 2011.

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