Like families around the world, Britain's royals send out Christmas greetings to their nearest and dearest. A collection of 17 cards that the royals gave to a member of their staff from 1981 to 1998 show some of the family's more intimate moments, from Charles and Diana’s wedding, to the queen and her husband enjoying the outdoors. The collection was auctioned off on Dec. 13, for $4,052 to an American buyer.
Full of hope
Charles and Diana chose their wedding portrait for their 1981Christmas greeting.
A year after their wedding, Prince Charles and Diana chose a photo with new baby William for their 1982 Christmas card.
Prince Charles, wearing his Scottish kilt, looks on proudly as his wife holds their 1 year-old son, William, in this 1983 Christmas card.
Born just three months before Christmas, Prince Harry makes his first appearance on a royal Christmas card in this 1984 greeting. An excited Prince William hams it up for the camera.
Prince William holds on to his baby brother, Prince Harry, as they pose on a pony next to their parents in 1985, the year William started school. His mother described the young prince in a TV interview that year as a "typical 3-year-old," who was "not at all shy and very polite. Whereas Harry is more quiet and just watches."
The Queen Mother sits happily with her Corgis in her gardens at the Castle of Mey, in northern Scotland, where she spent several weeks each summer, in this 1986 Christmas card.
Prince Charles and Diana pose with their two young sons and their dog in this 1986 photo. Years later, it came out that despite their happy smiles, the royal couple's marriage was already on the rocks, just five years after their fairy-tale wedding.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip chose this image from the queen's official birthday celebration, the Trooping of the Colour, for their 1986 Christmas card.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip pose with their grandchildren, Princes William and Harry, and Peter and Zara Phillips, in this more formal photo used on their 1987 card. “Looking at these cards, one really does get the idea that they were a happy family,” says Rupert Perry-Warnes, salesroom manager at Duke's, where the lot of 17 cards was auctioned.
In 1989, the queen chose a black and white photo with Prince Philip for her Christmas greetings.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip relax with one of their Corgis in this photo that graced their 1990 Christmas card. “They seem much more relaxed in these photos than one usually sees them,” says Rupert Perry-Warnes, salesroom manager at Duke's, where the lot of 17 cards was auctioned.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip share a laugh as they leave St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, after the annual service of the Order of the Garter, in this 1991 image.
The royal couple make their way around in a Range Rover, surrounded by colorful flags, in this 1994 photo.
In this portrait, the queen poses with the Duke of Edinburgh for their 1995 Christmas card. That year, the queen wrote to both Charles and Diana, asking them to divorce.
The queen relaxes outdoors with her husband in this photo used for their card in 1996.
The queen chose this image for her annual greeting in 1997, four months after the death of Diana and a year after Prince Andrew split from his wife, Sarah Ferguson. The queen came under heavy criticism in the days and months following Diana's death for her seemingly cold reaction and inability to connect with the people's grief.
The queen poses with her children and grandchildren for this 1998 Christmas card.
Prince Charles chose this image from the day of his son's wedding for his 2011 card. Here, he holds his wife Camilla's granddaughter, Eliza Lopes, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace where William and his new bride Catherine made their first public appearance after their nuptials.
For their official 2013 Christmas card, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, chose a picture of them at last June's Royal Ascot horse races, viewing horses in the parade ring from the royal box. Prince Charles, 65, wore a morning coat from Anderson & Sheppard and a top hat, while Duchess Camilla sported a couture Anna Valentine chiffon dress with a green silk dress coat.