Princess Charlotte is adorable, royal, and now 2 years old. For her birthday on May 2, Kensington Palace released a picture taken last month by her mother, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. It shows a smiling toddler standing in front of bales of hay. The rural look of the photograph suggests Kate snapped the image of her daughter when they were at their country home of Anmer Hall in Norfolk. The home to Kate, Prince William, Princess Charlotte and her big brother, Prince George, lies within Queen Elizabeth II’s huge Sandringham Estate, which has large commercial agricultural lands.
It’s the first time the public has seen an image of Princess Charlotte since Christmas Day. Then, the princess clutched a candy cane tightly in her left hand as she toddled down the stairs of St. Mark’s Church in Englefield, Berkshire, where the Cambridges attended service with the Middleton family. Before then, aside from her birth, christening and royal visit to Canada, she’s only been seen in approved photographs, released by her parents.
Why there aren’t many photos of Princess Charlotte and her brother
Keeping Princess Charlotte out of the public eye is a strategy that her parents began with brother George. “George is invisible,” said Judy Wade, a Hello! royal correspondent who spent more than 30 years covering the house of Windsor, when interviewed in Maclean’s in 2013. As a child, William hated the media attention, especially that of the aggressive paparazzi, that swirled around him and his brother, Prince Harry. Their holidays with mother Diana, princess of Wales, were ruined by photographers snapping the royals’ every move. Though the mainstream media is now largely respectful of young royals, those experiences haunt William.
“There has always been a bargain between royal parents and the mainstream press in Britain. The Windsors ensure the media gets regularly updated photos of the children, and in return the British press leave the children alone and, importantly, agree not to publish paparazzi images,” I wrote back in 2013. “When William was George’s age, photographs were taken and released to a public hungry for new images of the young prince. The number of releases is roughly the same as today. They were taken by a small pool of professional photographers and cameramen, invited behind the gates of Kensington Palace to record birthdays and other key events.”
But now, even that “highly restricted, controlled access is gone,” I noted. Instead, Prince William and Kate release carefully composed photos of their children. The pictures are taken by Kate or a hired photographer with the Cambridges having editorial control over what images are released. Video is banned. And that’s spawned grumbling from photographers over the quality of the pictures, especially those taken by Kate.
@RE_DailyMail Behave Bex, they need to let professionals do these historic pics of the future like Tim Graham used to do. Her fingers have been cut off !!
— Mark Cuthbert (@markacuthbert) May 2, 2017
So while all the British papers splashed the new photograph on their front pages, they know they’ll use and reuse that image over and over, until the next sanctioned photograph shows up. Sometimes that gap can stretch to be half a year. (Prince George, who turns 4 on July 22, hasn’t been snapped since Christmas Day.)
Luckily, everyone will get to see the antics of the royal toddlers in three weeks. That’s when Princess Charlotte and Prince George take part in their aunt Pippa Middleton’s wedding.