Exclusive Royal Pictures: Rare pictures of Queen Elizabeth before she was crowned

We just love this series of photographs, which have never been published before, of the Queen enjoying a genuinely carefree existence on Malta in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Away from the pressure of the watching public at home, Queen Elizabeth has described these as 'the happiest days of my life'.

The Queen's love affair with the island began in 1949 when Prince Philip was made First Lieutenant on HMS Chequers. Later that year, Elizabeth's father, King George VI, suggested she joined her husband on Malta. So after celebrating Prince Charles's first birthday, the Princess flew to the island arriving on her second wedding anniversary, November 20.