Why Aren’t The Royal Family’s Christmas Card Photos More Festive?

Prince William & Kate Middleton’s summery snap pays homage to an old royal tradition.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis (C), accompanied by their parents the Prince Will...
Getty Images/Pool

This festive season will be very different for the royal family, marking their first without Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On Dec. 13, Prince William and Kate Middleton marked another change, sharing their first annual Christmas card photo as the Prince and Princess of Wales. Taken by photographer Matt Porteous in Norfolk earlier this year, Kensington Palace shared the very summery family photo of the royal couple and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Princess Louis. But why aren’t the royal Christmas cards festive?

Well, when looking back over the decades of royal Christmas cards you can see the family tradition is to rarely choose festive shots. As far back as the reign of King George V and Queen Mary in 1914, the photos used in royal Christmas cards have always been either an official portrait, a professional photograph taken in the same year, or a more candid family photo.

Once King Charles III and Princess Diana had William and Prince Harry, they too shared a mixture of professional and candid photos as a family. William and Kate seem to follow this tradition more, offering more insight into their everyday family life rather than an official portrait like their first Christmas card as a family of four in 2017. Unlike the denim and shorts in 2022’s royal Christmas card, the Prince and Princess of Wales opted for formal dress with a matching blue theme, with Charlotte in a dress and George in shorts, a tradition for young royal boys.

However, William and Kate broke this tradition with a young Louis in 2020 when they shared a more autumnal look with the boys in jeans, which was once again shot in Norfolk by Porteous. Meanwhile, the photographer said of the 2022 Christmas card: “It is always such an honour to capture these special moments within a family.”