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Royal family Christmas cards offer visions of present and future

The Waleses' picture
The Waleses' picture was taken by Josh Shinner, a photographer better known for his work with celebrities and fashion magazines - Josh Shinner/Kensington Palace

As Christmas cards go, they could not be more different. One traditional, one modern; the present and future of the monarchy in two photographs.

In one image, the King and Queen are resplendent in their Coronation finery, the picture of pomp and ceremony.

In the other, the Prince and Princess of Wales and their young family smile for the camera, dressed in casual jeans and open-necked shirts.

Taken by a photographer better known for his work with celebrities and fashion magazines, the striking image of the Waleses shows the three children looking suddenly more mature, gazing directly at the camera.

Shot in black and white, it is reminiscent of images of the young Prince William with his parents and brother.

The 1992 Christmas card from the then Prince Charles and Princess Diana featured a young William and Harry
The 1992 Christmas card from the then Prince Charles and Princess Diana featured a young William and Harry

The photo was taken by Josh Shinner, a Yorkshire-born photographer now based in London who has shot portraits of actors, singers and models for Vogue, Esquire, the FT, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. It is his first royal assignment.

The King and Queen’s image was shot by Hugo Burnand, the official Coronation photographer. Taken at Buckingham Palace on May 6, shortly after the newly crowned King and Queen returned from Westminster Abbey, it shows the couple standing side by side.

The King and Queen's card
The King and Queen chose their official Coronation picture taken by veteran royal photographer Hugo Burnand for their card - Buckingham Palace/Hugo Burnand/PA

The King is wearing the Imperial State Crown and Coronation tunic as well as the purple silk velvet and gold-embroidered Robe of Estate. The Queen wears the Queen Mary’s Crown, with her own hand-embroidered Robe of Estate.

The Wales family, in contrast, are wearing crisp white shirts and jeans. The Princess has minimal jewellery and loose hair, while Princess Charlotte, eight, has her long blonde hair down.

She and Prince Louis, five, wear slip-on trainers while Prince George, 10, seems to have graduated to the same suede boots favoured by his father.

George wears a Ralph Lauren shirt, a brand favoured by his late grandmother Diana, Princess of Wales.

“The Prince and Princess of Wales are very pleased to share a new photograph of their family,” Kensington Palace said.
It was taken in Windsor, where the family live in Adelaide Cottage.

Asked about the choice of style and photographer, a Kensington Palace spokesman said: “The Prince and Princess saw Josh’s work and wanted to capture a memorable family portrait.”

“I’ve always loved portraiture and the people I most enjoy photographing are those that take some warming up,” Mr Shinner said in a Harper’s Bazaar interview this year.

“I love trying to make those people feel at ease and chatting to them.”

Mr Burnand, on the other hand, is a veteran society photographer who has worked on important royal occasions for decades, and was the official wedding photographer for both the King and Queen in 2005 and the Prince and Princess of Wales in 2011.

Both Christmas cards will be sent out to hundreds of recipients, including friends, family, members of the household, patronages, the Commonwealth and overseas diplomats.


A fashion editor’s verdict

By Bethan Holt

This photograph marks a fascinating new version of artful casual from the Waleses, who have previously been known for leaning on a rural chic Norfolk aesthetic in their family portraits. Although this is still very relaxed, the matching white shirts look more glossy and are a knowing nod to one of this year’s biggest trends - white shirts. These had a style moment when Victoria Beckham wore one in the Netflix documentary, Beckham, earlier this year.

There are also echoes of Prince William’s childhood in the style choices: Prince George is wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt, a label favoured by Princess Diana in the 90s (such as the pink shirt she wore in Bosnia in 1997). There are several portraits of William, Harry and Diana, which were released in black and white too, where they all look very happy and relaxed

Overall the portrait is a clever blend of timeless cool and current trends - but beneath the surface it’s full of references to a happier period in William’s relationship with his brother and mother.’