From glittering crowns to sharp tuxedos and floor-length gowns, we see the royal family when they step out dressed to the nines. But when they don’t think the paparazzi’s cameras are out, even the most famous Windsors will dress down in an almost unrecognizable way. From sneakers, leggings and jeans, the royals wear it all when they don’t think we’re looking! Read on to see some of the family’s most famous members foregoing formalwear for casual get ups.
Sarah, Duchess of York
You might not know that duchesses make the school run, too. And you certainly may not have guessed that they sometimes do it in leggings! But Sarah, Duchess of York picked up her daughter Princess Beatrice in polka-dot pants, high-top sneakers, a white turtleneck and a long, loose cardigan in 1992.
Now, “dressed down” for a royal applies to more than just leggings and sneakers. In this case, a daisy patterned sundress – topped with what appears to be a green denim jacket – also counts as casual wear. The Duchess of York wore this to a polo match in 1983, which she attended with her friend and fellow royal: Princess Diana.
This picture flaunts Fergie’s everyday fashion sense, but it also lets us in on her hobbies outside of the limelight. She threw on floral-patterned denim, a blue collared top and a black sweater to wear to flying lessons in 1987. Yes, the duchess was about to get into the cockpit of the pictured helicopter to learn how to operate it.
The Duchess of York’s eldest – Princess Beatrice – has certainly mastered the art of dressing casually. Here, she is seen wearing jeans, green sneakers and a team T-shirt to go pick up her bib for the London Marathon. The tee may be the most interesting part of her look, as it reveals the strange way in which she and 33 others chose to run the race in 2010. They tied themselves together to create a human caterpillar in an attempt to break the world record for the longest linked run of a marathon ever.
Clearly, Beatrice likes to get a good workout in, although not every sweat session is the London Marathon. Here, we’re fast-forwarding to 2017 and she’s walking the streets of New York City’s Soho neighborhood in leggings, a long-sleeved tee and Nike sneakers. And to complete her look, Beatrice has what appears to be a green smoothie in hand.
Princess Beatrice didn’t just ditch gowns and tiaras for the sake of fitness. She also dressed down when it came time to attend school. Here, she heads to her first day at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2008, where she chose to study history. With her flats, floral dress and fresh face, she looked like any other college student on her way to class.
Princess Eugenie – Beatrice’s younger sister – chose a casual look for her first day at England’s Newcastle University in 2009. She belted a simple gray dress and threw an open cardigan on top. It was a casual take on her royal style, which often sees her wearing A-line dresses that accentuate her waistline.
Of course, not all of Princess Eugenie’s outfits stick with her classic silhouette. During a 2012 night out in London, she rocked a pair of low-waisted black jeans and high-heeled pumps instead. The royal also added a pop of color with her top – a teal chevron-striped button down shirt.
Beatrice went for another casual look while out and about in New York City in 2014. But instead of wearing jeans, she opted for a pair of shorts worn over tights. Beatrice rounded out the mostly monochromatic look with a long gray sweater and a darker open coat with leather cuffs.
In this shot, we see an off-duty Prince Philip talking horses with his daughter: Princess Anne. Style watchers have noted that he often opts to wear single-breasted jackets. Yet here, Philip chose a simple forest green sweater and khakis.
Equine-related pursuits seem to bring out Philip’s laid-back side. In this picture, we see him on a mini motorbike as he makes his way through the Royal Windsor Horse Show. If you look closely, you’ll notice he’s wearing a pair of clear goggles underneath his beige fishing hat – accessories not quite fit for the majority of royal events!
Here’s a photo of Prince Philip relaxing on a 1982 trip to Tuvalu in the South Pacific. And we’re guessing that the island vibes got to him while visiting the nation! Why else would he opt to wear that straw hat while enjoying the sunshine?
Philip and Queen Elizabeth II cut a rug at a 1951 barn dance held in their honor on a Canadian tour. Now, the reigning monarch chose to keep things professional in a long a-line skirt and heels. But her husband went full country in a gingham top and belted jeans. Not only that: he even tied a bandana around his neck!
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
It’s hard to believe, but sometimes Queen Elizabeth joins her husband in dressing down. In this case, the famous couple donned seemingly waterproof outerwear for the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2013. The monarch also tied up her hair in a blush bandana. She wore the casual outfit to watch as her horse took home first prize at the Tattersalls & Ror Thoroughbred Ridden Show Horse Class.
As you can see, dressed-down looks are nothing new for Philip and Elizabeth. The couple were pictured here at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. This important event is held on the grounds of their castle in the same town.
State visits and foreign tours seem to bring out the casual side of the royals, too. Here, we see Philip and Elizabeth in Zambia in 1979, and both of them opted for laid-back attire on this particular day of the journey. Based on the binoculars and SUV parked next to them, we imagine the couple was on the lookout for African wildlife.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
It’s no secret that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge – Kate Middleton – is a style icon. In one Rakuten poll, she came in first place as the celebrity who respondents most wanted to dress like. But in this photo of her with her son Prince George, Kate looks like any other mom in a striped long-sleeved tee and skinny jeans.
Unlike the majority of royal family members, Kate had the chance to grow up out of the spotlight. Though that all changed when she met Prince William at the University of St. Andrews and the press caught on to their romance. But her normal upbringing likely helped hone her keen sense of casual fashion. Here she is in 2003 – ahead of her college graduation – in a simple white tank top and low-rise jeans.
Even after becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate has maintained her keen eye for casual wear. Not many people can make rain boots look fashion-forward, can they? And yet, here she is looking polished in wellies at a 2012 polo match in which both Princes William and Harry played.
Long before Kate hit red carpets in luxurious ball gowns and glittering jewels from the royal vault, she was just a normal girl who made one thing clear: she loved blue jeans. In this 2007 photo, she dons another low-rise pair with a patterned shirt, black blazer and statement necklace.
Usually, we squint at Kate’s head to make out which royal tiara she has on. And it’s not often we find a pair of sunglass resting there instead! In this 2006 snapshot, it seems that Kate was indeed wearing her shades in her hair. The duchess might’ve needed them to watch the charity polo match – featuring William and Harry – that she was watching.
Prince William, Duke of Sussex and Catherine, Duchess of Sussex
Sometimes, Kate’s husband William matches her when she opts for dressed-down duds. Of course, the wardrobe choice always suits the occasion. For this 2011 event, the royal couple wore cowboy hats, western-inspired shirts and jeans to attend the Calgary Stampede – an annual rodeo event in Canada.
In 2016 William and Kate went on a royal trip to the opposite side of the world: Bhutan. There, the pair climbed up to see the Tiger’s Nest and posed for a photo next to a prayer wheel. And the duo had no trouble finding polished but comfortable clothes for the trek.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry stepped out with his future wife Meghan Markle for the first time in September 2017 at the Invictus Games. All eyes were on the new couple, but they still went casual for the event. Some say that the Duchess of Sussex hinted at the fact that they were secretly engaged with her top. This button-down piece – part of designer Misha Nonoo’s collection – was called the “Husband Shirt.”
Even after their much-watched, highly glamorous nuptials in 2018, Meghan and Harry still take the opportunity to dress down when the circumstances call for it. In this photo, the pair are visiting Fraser Island, Australia. And the duchess’ breezy jumpsuit provides a bit of camouflage for her growing baby bump – she would give birth to their son Archie the next year.
A two-month-old Archie accompanied his mom and dad to the latter’s charity polo match in July 2019. Meghan kept things simple, too. Here, she’s seen in an olive-colored maxi dress, sunglasses and is wearing her hair in loose, wavy tresses.
Not all royal visits require suits, ties, tiaras and dresses. Here’s another piece of evidence from Meghan and Harry’s 2019 trip to Morocco, where they visited the country’s Royal Federation of Equestrian Sports. The couple had to dress down for the day’s activities, which included horse grooming and meeting the animals’ trainers.
Of course, Meghan nailed the “dressed-down royal” look long before she became a member of the family. This photo was taken five months before she said “I do” to Prince Harry, and she looks very much like a modern duchess. Her head-to-toe neutral getup goes perfectly with her beau’s gray and navy ensemble.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
If it weren’t for the cameras, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex might’ve blended in as just another expectant mom stepping out for lunch in New York City. After all, she had on a very casual getup on this day in February 2019. The royal wore an all-black ensemble – sneakers, leggings, shirt and hat – covered up in a camel-colored coat.
Before becoming a member of the royal family, Meghan grew up in Los Angeles and worked as an actress in Hollywood. She therefore had plenty of time to perfect the California style she wears so well. Here, Meghan looks extra casual in a denim jacket, white shirt and jeans, which she wore on a visit to a South African mental-health NGO.
Of course, Meghan’s pre-royalty style was a lot more casual than the formal outfits often required by her place in the Windsor family. The former actress was photographed here nearly a decade before she started dating Prince Harry. And, as you can see, Meghan’s jeans, black top and statement pearls are pretty laid back in comparison to her glitzy looks as a duchess.
You can probably envision at least one of Princess Diana’s most iconic fashion moments, and what you see is undoubtedly an uber-glam getup. Yet the royal could churn out enviable street-style looks just as easily as she could make ballgowns and tiaras seem effortless to wear. She is seen here wearing a cap, knee-high boots, jeans and a blazer over a sweatshirt featuring the British Lung Foundation’s logo. Indeed, charity never looked so chic!
Diana is, of course, well-known for her glamorous looks and glittering downs. But she also had an affinity for quirky cardigans and sweaters, too. This one – which she wore to a Windsor Polo match in 1981 – even made its way onto an episode of The Crown. You can go see it at London’s design-centric Victoria and Albert Museum, where the iconic knit is part of the permanent collection.
White sweatpants tucked into leopard-print cowboy boots? Diana was one of the few people who could pull off such a look. She topped her sweats with a blazer and hid her hair beneath a baseball cap. Now, that’s how you make the most of your accessories!
Biker shorts have certainly made a fashion comeback in recent years. Before then, though, Diana made them look cool. Here she is in 1995 exiting the upscale Chelsea Harbour Club fitness center in London, England. Rounding out the outfit – which would look just as fresh today – Diana wore high-top sneakers, socks and a Virgin Atlantic tee.
Diana was clearly well ahead of the fashion trends. Just look at how popular leopard print is today, for instance. The princess wore it in 1990, and the breezy dress was perfect for the setting. She and her family were on vacation on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. The oasis is owned by Sir Richard Branson and features a luxurious resort rental that’s only economically feasible for the likes of the royal family.
Queen Elizabeth II
Now, the last member of the royal family you’d expect to dress down is probably the Queen herself. She takes her role at the helm very seriously – Elizabeth considers herself an embodiment of the nation she serves. So, it’s very rare to see the reigning monarch in something like this – a casual getup she wore to the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1990.
The Queen wore this particular outfit to the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 1991. It’s certainly dressier than her waterproof coat and scarf-covered hair, but she still looks more like a civilian than usual. In fact, you may be able to picture your grandma or mother donning a similar look for a family gathering or special event.
Elizabeth clearly likes to dress down for the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Here, she’s driving herself to the show’s International Carriage Driving Grand Prix Championships, in which Prince Philip competed in 2002. And the dog-printed scarf was a noteworthy choice for someone headed to a horse show.
Elizabeth is sticking with her signature headscarf in this 1988 shot at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. But she swaps out her raincoat or even a formal skirt and cardigan in favor of jodhpur leggings, riding boots and a blazer. Yep, that’s how you do casual if you’re the monarch!