The photo of the then 13-year-old princess was hidden in an attic for decades

By Simon Perry
February 02, 2016 09:15 AM
Source: Clarence House/Instagram

Even as a young teenager, Queen Elizabeth was the picture of royalty.

In honor of the Queen’s upcoming 90th birthday, her son Prince Charles was given a rare portrait of his mother as a 13-year-old princess.

Charles, who was delighted to receive the rarely-seen photograph during a visit to a charity, told Simon Barnes, the chief executive of Send a Cow, “I’ll see if Mama remembers it, and remembers what she was wearing when it was taken.”

Want to keep up with the latest royals coverage? Click here to subscribe to the Royals Newsletter.

The portrait had been hidden in the attic of the family of Canadian photographer, Lawrence Audrain, who had taken the shot in 1939 to mark an upcoming royal tour of the United States.

Prince Charles receives the portrait of his mother.
Courtesy Send A Cow

But the image was deemed too informal by her mom, the late Queen Mother, and other photos from the set was chosen instead.

Audrain told his wife, Natasha, “They were the ones the Queen rejected. She thought they were too informal,” PEOPLE reported in 1996.

But rather than ditch the photo, Audrain quietly kept the photograph of the then 13-year-old princess in the family – and his daughter, Lisa Gibson, inherited it at his death.

She then gave it to Barnes and his wife Lucy as a wedding present when they were living in Pennsylvania.

The charity, of which Charles is president, works to try to beat hunger in seven African countries by helping farmers with the practical tools they need to succeed.

Prince Charles with charity members.
Courtesy Send A Cow

“Lucy and I have always loved this portrait of Her Majesty as a young princess, but as she approaches her 90th birthday, it was thrilling to be able to return it to the family when His Royal Highness visited our Send a Cow headquarters yesterday,” Barnes said.

“Our charity has a ‘pass on principle’ with the communities we work with in Africa, gifting livestock and knowledge to their neighbors and it was wonderful to be able to pass on such a special treasure to the Prince of Wales. He appeared very touched to receive it.”