One proud “Gan-Gan”! While Queen Elizabeth II has a very busy job as the sovereign of the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth territories, she still finds time to prioritize her family and her many great-grandchildren.
“The queen is in her element when she’s got her great-grandchildren sitting on her lap and having that family time,” royal expert Kerene Barefield exclusively told Us Weekly in December 2021. “I’m sure it’s something that we’ll never ever get to witness — that kind of really relaxed family time, which is what everyone else has at Christmas.”
The long-reigning monarch — who marked 70 years on the throne in February 2022 — first became a proud great-grandparent in December 2010 when grandson Peter Phillips welcomed his eldest daughter, Savannah, with ex-wife Autumn Kelly. Since then, Elizabeth’s brood has expanded to include 12 great-grandchildren, including Prince William and Duchess Kate’s three kids, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, as well as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s two little ones, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.
“George is only 2 [and a half] and he calls her ‘Gan-Gan,’” the Duchess of Cambridge previously said during a March 2016 interview for ITV’s Our Queen at Ninety documentary. “She always leaves a little gift or something in their room when we go and stay, and that just shows her love for the family.”
Kate added: “The queen was really thrilled that [my second child] was a little girl, and I think as soon as we came back here to Kensington Palace [from the hospital], she was one of our first visitors here.”
Not only does Elizabeth have a close connection to many of her littlest relatives, but their parents also chose to honor her when it came to deciding on a name. Upon Charlotte’s birth in May 2015, William and Kate chose the middle monikers “Elizabeth Diana” to honor both the queen and his late mother, Princess Diana. Harry also took inspiration from his mother and grandmother’s legacies when his daughter Lilibet Diana was born in June 2021.
“Lili is named after her great-grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet,” the Archewell cofounders wrote on their organization website that June. “Her middle name, Diana, was chosen to honor her beloved late grandmother, The Princess of Wales.”
Princess Beatrice, for her part, honored the queen by choosing the name “Sienna Elizabeth” for her little girl, who was born in September 2021. Beatrice’s sister, Princess Eugenie, took inspiration from the queen’s late husband, Prince Philip, when it came to a middle name for her son August Philip upon his February 2021 birth.
While many of Elizabeth’s great-grandchildren don’t have as many public appearances as the monarch, they frequently steal the show at the ones they attend. As the queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee at the annual Trooping the Colour parade in June 2022, she was caught having a sweet moment with Prince Louis, born in April 2018.
Louis notably covered his ears as he stood on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the military flyover, though it was hard to keep his attention. At one point, Elizabeth kindly encouraged him to look up at the planes’ formation in the sky.
The queen died in September 2022 at the age of 96 and is succeeded by eldest son King Charles III.
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Scroll below to see the queen’s sweetest family moments with her great-grandchildren through the years: