Tuesday 21 May 2019

All eyes might be on Meghan and Harry, but Kate and William's Christmas card proves they are the clever ones

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (2R) and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (L) and their three children Prince Louis of Cambridge (2L), Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (C) and Prince George of Cambridge (R) posing for a photograph at Anmer Hall in Norfolk in the Autumn of 2018. (Photo by Matt Porteous / KENSINGTON PALACE / AFP)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (2R) and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (L) and their three children Prince Louis of Cambridge (2L), Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (C) and Prince George of Cambridge (R) posing for a photograph at Anmer Hall in Norfolk in the Autumn of 2018. (Photo by Matt Porteous / KENSINGTON PALACE / AFP)
In this handout image provided by Clarence House, HRH Prince Charles Prince of Wales poses for an official portrait to mark his 70th Birthday in the gardens of Clarence House, with Their Royal Highnesses Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Willliam Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince Harry Duke of Sussex and Meghan Duchess of Sussex, on September 5, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson / Clarence House via Getty Images)
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis after Prince Louis' christening at St James's Palace on July 09, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
In this handout image provided by Clarence House, HRH Prince Charles Prince of Wales poses for an official portrait to mark his 70th Birthday in the gardens of Clarence House, with Their Royal Highnesses Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Willliam Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, Prince Harry Duke of Sussex and Meghan Duchess of Sussex, on September 5, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson / Clarence House via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as her husband the Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at the Beaufort Polo Club, Downfarm House, Westonbirt, Tetbury
Royal wedding
Britain's Prince William arrives at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital with his children Prince George and Princess Charlotte after his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son, in London, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Royal brood: Will and Kate’s family has now become five with the arrival of their new baby boy. Photo: PA
The Duchess of Sussex would have inspired Vick Hope when she was young, the radio presenter said (Steve Parsons/PA)
The Duchess of Cambridge and her daughter Princess Charlotte, climb a grass bank as the Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at the Beaufort Polo Club, Downfarm House, Westonbirt, Tetbury
Duchess of Cambridge in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at the Beaufort Polo Club, Downfarm House, Westonbirt, Tetbury
Britain's Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, leave the chapel with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis after Prince Louis's christening in the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, London, Britain, July 9, 2018. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS
The Duchess of Cambridge watches as her husband the Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at the Beaufort Polo Club, Downfarm House, Westonbirt, Tetbury
The Duchess of Sussex during the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club in Windsor
Britain's Prince William arrives at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital with his children Prince George and Princess Charlotte after his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son, in London, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
This photograph taken by Chris Allerton of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

It’s long been bandied about that we’re in the golden age of the British royal family - I even wrote a piece to that effect earlier this month - but Kate Middleton and Prince William’s joyful and exceptionally well executed Christmas card is proof further.

On Friday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge released a family Christmas card with three adorable children Prince George (five), Princess Charlotte (three) and Prince Louis (seven months), all of whom are dressed casually in what can only be described as country chic. The picture, taken by Matt Porteous, was not publicly scheduled for release and surprised fans with an injection of festive cheer, with a rare portrait including each member of the family.

It was received exactly as it was intended - relatable and relaxed, this, despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing relatable about the way the Cambridges live in comparison to the rest of the world.

In their world, no move is made without prior consultation and it is an absolute certainty that they are just as choreographed as Meghan and Harry, but they are simply more adept at the game. Meghan’s arrival into the royal fold hasn’t just given endless column inches based on whispers about her way of doing things or feuding with her in-laws, but it’s allowed a new layer to how Kate and William’s tiny clan are received.

This photograph taken by Chris Allerton of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House
This photograph taken by Chris Allerton of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at their Wedding Reception at Frogmore House

This year’s portrait is in stark contrast to the formality of last year’s set-up -  in which everyone is suitably dressed up for the occasion - and more in keeping with their Christmas cards of years past, most notably, their first with George and their cocker spaniel Lupo, who stopped making the cut once their brood started growing.

Last year’s suited style was more in keeping with the efforts to make William seem more statesman-like as Charles prepares to ascend the throne, however Harry and Meghan’s insistence on doing things their own way seems to have rubbed off on these two. Their decision to shoot at Amner Hall, their beloved haven, and let the world see even the tiniest glimpse into their sanctuary is virtually unheardof; save only for George in a monogrammed robe meeting the Obamas in 2016 in the parlour of their Kensington Palace apartment.

Read more: Portrait of a modern family: why we're still obsessed with those candid pictures of Kate, George and Charlotte

Much has been made of the monarchy’s positioning in the wake of the never-ending Brexit woes, and ‘sources’ keep telling tabloids that Queen Elizabeth and her family tree are taking this as an opportunity to portray themselves as a pillar of continuity and strength. It's quite the feat that they have successfully positioned themselves as an essential part of British life during its most vulnerable time in modern history. And that is thanks, at least in part, to some extraordinarily effective PR on Kate and Will’s behalf.

Kate knows the power her personal style wields, and once again recycled olive green Fjällräven jumper from earlier this year, all the while holding her seven-month-old. See, she’s just like us!

Their desire to appear frugal is heartening, but deliberate as any of their other public decisions. For public events, George was styled after his father at the same age and now Charlotte has been wearing some of her big brother’s pieces, including this Fina Ejerique cardigan which she first wore in a portrait kissing little Louis days after his birth. In the new shot, she poses mischievously in the middle of the set-up, arms around both of her parents. It's absolutely adorable.

George has finally been allowed to shed his little Victorian boy image and been upgraded to trousers, with a pair of grass-stained jeans with a pair of Hunter wellies, evoking images of his lively energy. We were all too busy admiring the children's hand-me-downs to notice Kate's Oak Leaf Hoop Earrings by Asprey, which retails for €5,700.

Congratulations, you have just been Cambridged.

The Duchess of Cambridge (left) with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as her husband the Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at the Beaufort Polo Club, Downfarm House, Westonbirt, Tetbury
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as her husband the Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at the Beaufort Polo Club, Downfarm House, Westonbirt, Tetbury

It's the most staged we've seen this couple allow themselves to appear: while at work functions, you get the feeling they are taking their responsibilities seriously, but at the end of the day, just doing their job. We've seen enough long lens pictures of Kate in casualwear, walking around London, taking George to the Natural History Museum or wrangling them at the polo, to know that their downtime is precious and more importantly, genuine.  But drastic action was required.

Amid a swirl of rumours of warring wives and princes, the focus has been successfully take back the narrative and portray them each as individuals, as people, as family men with their pride and joy and with one on the way. And it worked. At least until the next story breaks.

Online Editors

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