Four Generations, Three Heirs, One Monarch

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Well, now we know why the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George traveled separately from the Duchess, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis last week: they had to be at Buckingham Palace early to make puddings in the Music Room. More specifically, the Queen gathered her three heirs to film footage that will be aired during her Christmas broadcast this year. The four Windsors agreed to join The Royal British Legion’s “Together at Christmas” initiative, which launches next year and will help service men and women and their families during the holidays.

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I just finished writing my end-of-year wrap-up for the Royal Family (that will be published on the 29th) and within my introduction I noted that quite a bit of what we’re seeing right now is an effort to highlight the succession. There have been subtle and not-so-subtle efforts to do that over the last couple years – this photo would certainly fall in the latter camp.

Photos like this are rare – indeed, the last time English history has included moments in which four generations of monarchs overlapped one another is 1894-1901 when Queen Victoria was around for the first years of the future Edward VIII’s life. (Well, she was also around for George VI’s life, but no one knew he would rule, so that particular line up never made it into an isolated photo highlighting just that.)


The RF is big on symbolism, so this isn’t the first time such a photo capturing the Queen, Charles, William, and George has been shared. The first came in October 2013 at George’s christening:

Image by Jason Bell

And then again when George was a toddler to be featured on special stamps.


And now, for a Christmas special.

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The release of these images has caused some confusion as to whether we’ll be getting a traditional card from the Cambridges this year. I’ve heard conflicting reports that no, this is it, and others that we’re due to see another official photo later this evening to make it into the Monday photos. Part of this stems from the fact that we know the Cambridges did send out a card featuring a new family photo, but it was leaked on Twitter via a member of the Air Cadets. The tweet has since been deleted, so I have a feeling someone’s in some hot water at work right now.

So, TBD. I hope we do get a family pic, but if not, I think these images are unique and special in their own right, understanding specific fans of Kate aren’t getting what they want. I have seen some criticism that these photos are clearly staged – that they lack the spontaneity of “family cooking” that they’re meant to invoke. On the one hand, duh, they’re in the Buckingham Palace state apartments. On the other, I will admit my first thought was that George was clearly not actually doing much given they’re letting a six-year-old “cook” in a white shirt. So, yes, they are a bit awkward and staged, but whatever.

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Anywho, if we do get fresh photos this evening I’ll get another post up. I also bumped the next Richard III piece for tomorrow morning, so keep an eye out for that if you’re following along. In the meantime, the Duke of Edinburgh is reportedly still in hospital, while the Queen was photographed attending church at Sandringham with the Wessex family this morning. I would imagine the Cambridges are now holed up at Anmer, and the rest of the family is descending today and tomorrow. Almost time!

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