Kate and William have probably long fantasized about issuing a statement saying: “Screw you, Harry and Meghan! That is not how we do things round here!”
Instead, as befits the royal world of semaphore, they put out a deeply traditional photo of their son that could be construed as saying the same thing.
After a week of turmoil for the palace, which saw a shocking announcement that Prince Harry was to pen a memoir, described as “the stuff of nightmares” for the royal family, normal service was resumed today with an adorable portrait of Prince George released to mark the future king’s 8th birthday, as per tradition and custom.
The photograph, which was taken by his mother Kate Middleton, showed the smiling boy framed by the distinctive bodywork of a traditional Land Rover Defender, the favorite vehicle of his late great-grandfather Prince Philip. Philip was so enamored of the classic British SUV that he designed a specially modified one to carry his coffin on its final journey.
Turning eight(!) tomorrow 🥳🎂
📸 by The Duchess pic.twitter.com/1RI0fsXzDK
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 21, 2021
The internet decided Thursday that the photograph was generally charming, however George’s choice of a chain-store polo shirt is likely to have come as a disappointment to fans of the prince’s outrageously formal dressing style, as demonstrated in some previous royal snaps. George has previously appeared in such images dressed in a range of anachronistic items, including scallop-collared shirts and, most famously, long, over-the-knee socks more suited to an Edwardian croquet party than the rough and tumble of 21st-century boyhood.
Prince George's fifth birthday sees new official photo released In the first official photograph of Prince George and his younger sister Princess Charlotte together, the third in line to the throne wore £7 socks by the same designer. https://t.co/KODSuBgWFr pic.twitter.com/AMVK2cz8mj
— Green Valley Supplements (@greenvalleysup) July 22, 2018
He was most recently seen in public wearing a formal suit at the final of the European soccer tournament.
Prince George in suit to cheer England in Euro 2020 final with parents https://t.co/mBlV4g80HY
— Independent Lifestyle (@IndyLife) July 11, 2021
There had been some speculation last week that William and Kate might not release a photo of George at all this week, such had been the level of social-media trolling in previous years. Angela Levin, a royal writer who has assiduously mined that particular seam of speculation in recent days, retweeted today’s image of George without further comment.
The restrained photo of George, which was taken at Kate and William’s country home Anmer Hall, also contrasts hugely with Harry and Meghan’s refusal to issue regular photographs of their own kids.
The California-based couple have still not released an image of their daughter, Lilibet, whose name, copied from the queen’s childhood moniker, provoked a major row after the queen’s office told the BBC that she had not been consulted on the use of the name, but Harry and Meghan’s team claimed she had and even threatened legal action against those repeating the claim.
Watch: How the Royal Family tackles parenting