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‘A defiantly joyous show of Yuletide unity’


WELL, this is quite the departure. Previous years’ Christmas cards from the Waleses have been all woollens and wellies: lots of khaki, checked shirts, hearty outdoor settings, that sort of thing – think Sloanes on safari. This is far more, dare I say it, California-cool than Norfolk pheasant-shoot. Stylish, monochrome, relaxed hands-inpocket, jeans, no socks. (No socks!) Still, at least they’re wearing shoes. Granted, plimsolls. But no bare toes. Not yet, at any rate.

It’s giving Ralph Lauren (literally: there’s a branded polo emblem on Prince George’s chest),

‘Charlotte is only eight but the camera already adores her’

it’s giving Dyson Airwrap hair multi-styler and dryer, it’s giving Mr Darcy in a white shirt.

Prince George looks every inch the debonaire future young Duke, hand in pocket, knee bent, steady gaze, as though leaning on a marble mantelpiece scanning the room for debutantes. Is that a small glass of port he’s hiding behind his mother’s back?

Prince William is the beaming, benevolent patriarch, paw resting affectionately on the shoulder of the family’s youngest. Indeed, Louis looks the very spit of Grandpa Middleton (if one can say such a thing these days; one doesn’t want to be accused of ‘unconscious bias’).

The Princess of Wales is fabulous, as always, her dazzling smile pure head girl/homecoming queen perfection, her long locks framing her face with enviable lustre. But the real star of the show, this centrepiece

of Royal appreciation, is Princess Charlotte.

She’s only eight, but already the camera adores her. And she seems at ease, calm and composed, an intriguing combination of her mother’s beauty, the late Queen’s poise

and self-assurance – and Princess Diana’s magnetism. A superstar in the making.

But it’s not what you might call ‘traditional’. Indeed, the overall effect is the kind of image you’d expect to see on the front cover of a magazine,

not a mantelpiece. Hardly surprising, really, since it was created by fashion (and fashionable) photographer Josh Shinner, a regular on publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Esquire.

The professionalism is unmis

takable, from the studio backdrop to the impeccable lighting and the chic, understated yet achingly luxurious styling.

It is quite a move for the Waleses, and very much a clear signal that they intend to be in all aspects a ‘modern’ Royal Family.

By contrast, Charles and Camilla have stuck to tradition in their Coronation-themed card. That shiny purple on the King’s waistcoat is more than a little reminiscent of the coveted hazelnut one in the Quality Street tin.

All that red draping and white ermine is very Father Christmas, too, the gold pure Ferrero Rocher. There’s a whiff of oldfashioned tinsel to it, and why not? Pass the cooking sherry, this one’s a granny-pleaser.

Of course, it was Harry and Meghan who originally adopted the more urbane feel of the Waleses’ card for their own official photographs.

For example, a similar uniform to the one seen here of jeans, megawatt smiles and no socks was the order of the day two years ago when Harry, Meghan,

‘Diana was famous for her collaborations with fashion photographers’

Archie and Lilibet celebrated their first Christmas of ‘freedom’. The snapper for that ‘Happy Holidays’ card was Alexi Lubomirski, also responsible for the couple’s studiously spontaneous black and white engagement and wedding photographs.

Like Shinner, Lubomirski, whose website describes himself as ‘a conscious voice who captures the world around us and inspires positive change’ also has an impressive CV, counting Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt as his celebrity subjects, plus a variety of highend brand campaigns, including Dior and Ralph Lauren.

It’s also worth remembering that we’ve been here before. Princess Diana was famous for her various collaborations with fashion photographers such as Patrick Demarchelier and Mario Testino, the results of which helped turn her into the enduring style icon she remains today.

If asked, the Prince and Princess of Wales would no doubt dismiss any parallels with the Sussex aesthetic as pure coincidence.

But in a year when Prince Harry has, not to put too fine a point on it, dumped buckets of vitriol all over his brother and sister-in-law, it’s very gratifying to see such a defiantly joyous show of Yuletide unity.

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